Published Jul 06, 2018Viola Desmond, a Canadian civil rights icon who challenged racial segregation in a movie theatre, has been honoured with a Google Doodle to celebrate her birthday today.
Desmond, who was born in Halifax in 1914, sat in the whites-only section of New Glasgow's Roseland Theatre during a screening of the psychological thriller The Dark Mirror in 1946. When she was told to leave, she refused. She was subsequently convicted because there was a one-cent difference in tax between the seat she paid for and the one she was sitting in.
Desmond's protest was initially accidental: New Glasgow didn't have formal laws about segregation of movie theatres, and the theatre in question didn't have any signs posted. She sat near to the screen because of her poor eyesight, and once she was asked to leave, she refused as a protest against the policy.
The entire story is told in the Google Doodle, which contains 10 panels and depicts her movie theatre protest.
Desmond's legacy has extended far beyond movie theatres, as the protest became a landmark moment in Canadian civil rights. Desmond, who died in 1965, was posthumously pardoned in 2010. She will appear on the Canadian $10 bill later in 2018.
She has been honoured in documentary films Long Road to Justice: The Viola Desmond Story and Journey to Justice.