In honour of the birthday of Viola Desmond (née Davis), who would have turned 104 today, Google’s latest Search Doodle tells the story of the Canadian civil rights icon.
Often described as Canada’s Rosa Parks, Desmond earned her place in the history books on November 8th 1946 when she went to watch a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Desmond, 32 at the time, was dragged from her seat by police for sitting in the “whites only” section of the theatre. At the time, blacks were only allowed to sit in the theatre’s balcony section.
Desmond was subsequently convicted of tax fraud for not paying the one-cent difference between the tax on downstairs and upstairs ticket, a difference she tried to pay while still at the theatre. As part of her conviction, she was forced to pay a $20 fine and $6 in court fees. Desmond appealed the conviction but lost. Sixty-three years later, Nova Scotia issued a posthumous apology and pardon.
The entire episode, as well as Desmond’s growing legacy, is captured in Google’s usual whimsical style.
Later this year, Desmond will grace Canada’s new $10 bill. Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled the bill in March alongside Desmond’s 91-year-old sister, Wanda Robson. Also depicted on the bill is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. The bill is scheduled to enter circulation later this year.