The Creation of the Black History Round Table: a Tribute to the late Jean Doré, former Mayor of Montreal

Adieu Jean Doré. Doré, former Mayor of Montreal, opened City Hall to all minorities by inviting them to participate in the democratic process of decision-making about the kind of city they wanted. During the Jean Drapeau administration, the Black community had acquired limited access to the city’s civil service due to the interventions of the Black Community Council of Quebec. As a result, some substantial community services in sport and recreation were provided but Drapeau remained distant from our events and community.


However, under the Doré administration we sat at the policy tables at the levels of the MCM party, the city and the boroughs. This set a pattern for the years that straddled the two subsequent administrations of Borque and Tremblay. Doré’s style of administration was characterized by his receptiveness to voices from the minority communities and the administration’s commitment to creating a socially cohesive Montreal with safe, welcoming neighborhoods.


Black cultural activities flourished under Doré’s administration as part of a very direct and planned strategy of cultural tourism and community development. There was significant support of Black culture, theatre, carnival arts, and festivals. The city’s support and funding of the Caribbean Carnival was at no time stronger than during the Doré administration. In fact, Vue D’Afrique, Carifete/Carifiesta, Rhythm du Monde and Black Theatre Workshop were formally considered as integral elements in the city’s strategic plan for cultural tourism during Doré’s term.


For the first time in the history of Montreal, the City’s administration created a department responsible for cultural communities’ development and hired a significant number of Blacks. Perhaps the most visible association and trend-breaking policy of his administration was the recognition of February as the month that all Montrealers would celebrate Black history and the contributions and presence of Blacks here. There are many Blacks who say that Black History Month should be celebrated every day, not just in February, and there is certainly no one stopping us from doing that thanks to Doré. However, draping City Hall in huge streamers that flow in the wind and read “Le Mois de l’Histoire des Noirs” is no simple achievement in French Quebec. It marks the depth of the relationship between Jean Doré and the Black communities, as well as the respect and value that his administration accorded our place in Montreal. It underlines the pluralism practiced by the new leadership in Montreal and by their initiatives to update and reform the attitudes of the informal, private culture of the city’s civil-service, and police about Blacks.


Doré leaves behind his legacy of humanism, his support and encouragement of our participation in Montreal’s social and political life, as well as the decision-making processes of the city.


By Clarence S. Bayne



This article was featured in the Semaji June 2015. To read the full version Click Here