Today’s Google Doodle from Canada celebrates Viola Desmond’s 104th birthday by telling the story of her life through ten beautifully illustrated panels, from her beginnings as a child who saw little to no hair or skin-care being made for black women, to ground-breaking beautician, and to civil rights icon after she refused to move out of her seat at the Roseland Film Theatre in 1946.
After Desmond was forcibly removed, arrested, thrown in jail, and fined, she fought the charge in court and it reached Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court. Though it was dismissed, her story and legacy fueled the Canadian civil rights movement.
Other panels from the Google Doodle, which you can check out here, portray Desmond’s many amazing accomplishments. As a businesswoman, she trained outside of Halifax (where she was not allowed to train), opened her own salon, started her own line of beauty products, and even opened her own beauty school so other black women could learn. The final image is that of her portrait in the historic ballroom in Government House, installed in 2010.
Desmond’s legacy still rings true in both access to education and industries (diversity in the beauty industry is still incredibly relevant), as well as fighting against injustice (she originally was told to let the incident at the theater go). In March, she also become the face of the $10 bill, making her the first Canadian-born woman to appear alone on a regularly circulating banknote.
I love Sophie Diao’s artwork for this Doodle so much, I wish it was made into a children’s book. Happy Birthday Viola Desmond!
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