Harry Jerome Awards
October 21, 1982: Al Hamilton, publisher of Contrast Newspaper, Denham Jolly and Bromley Armstrong convene a meeting where they decided to form an association and a steering committee.
Following the October 1982 meeting, it was decided to honour the six Black Canadian athletes who excelled at that year’s Commonwealth Games: Angela Taylor-Issanjenko, Ben Johnson, Mark McKoy, Milt Ottey, Tony Sharpe and Desai Williams.
A dinner was then organized at which Harry Jerome, Canada’s premiere track and field athlete during the 1960s would be invited to be the keynote speaker. However, before he could be invited, Harry Jerome died suddenly in December 1982. The group then decided to turn the celebration into a tribute to Harry Jerome and an awards ceremony to honour the six athletes. The name ‘Harry Jerome Awards’ was proposed by Hamlin Grange and so the first Harry Jerome Awards was held on March 5, 1983.
July 1983: the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) is a non-profit charitable organization that serves to address equity and opportunity for the Black community in business, employment, education and economic development is incorporated.
The Harry Jerome Awards is now a national event that recognizes and honours excellence in African Canadian achievement. In addition to the Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA sponsors the Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund, providing financial support to African Canadian youth pursuing higher education. The idea for the Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund was provided by Hamlin Grange and realized through the efforts of Kamala-Jean Gopie, Pamela Appelt, Sheila Simpson and Beverly Mascoll. Journalist Cynthia Reyes was the BBPA’s president at the time. Under the leadership of Verlyn Francis, the scholarship fund established an endowment fund in 1996 and attracted corporate sponsorship. Today the Fund awards some 50 scholarships each year.