Who Was Harry Jerome?

As we all gear up for the 31st Annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards, we thought it’d be fitting to give you all some information about the man who these awards are named after.

Harry Jerome was born in 1940 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1940 and moved to North Vancouver in 1950 where his was the only Black family in the neighbourhood.

Harry’s drive was built on excellence, setting the standard as the world’s fastest man representing Canada at two Pan American Games, two commonwealth Games, and three Olympics. At the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, Harry severed his left quadricep muscle and was told that he’d never run again on a competitive stage. Not to be deterred by the opinions of others, Harry achieved perhaps the greatest comeback ever in sports history. In 1964, Harry returned to the track at the Tokyo Olympics capturing the bronze medal in the 100-metre dash and narrowly missing a second medal in the 200-metre.

Harry’s achievements were not limited to athletics. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Science at the University of Oregon and was a vocal opponent of the misrepresentation of African Canadians on Canadian television and in the workplace.

After his retirement from the track, Harry went on to work with the Federal Ministry of Sport and was named British Columbia’s Athlete of the Century. In 1971 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada.

In 1982, Harry Jerome suffered a brain aneurism and passed away at the age of 42. He was truly a Canadian hero, epitomizing excellence, determination, and dedication in all areas of his life.

It is no wonder why these awards are named in his honour and the recipients are those who share in his attributes. The Harry Jerome Awards are about the pursuit of excellence and achievement against the odds. Let’s celebrate as many as we can through nominations (closing January 17th), and at the ceremony this coming April.

For a visual take on who Harry Jerome was, here’s the trailer from the Hot Docs film Mighty Jerome directed by the AMAZING Charles Officer (click on the picture below).

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