Fergie Jenkins and Black History Month Celebrated in Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent, Ontario – Ferguson “Fergie” Jenkins, Chatham’s hometown hero came to town Saturday for an event, Lunch with Fergie Jenkins, to honour the release of Jenkins’ commemorative Canada Post stamp and Black History Month,
“This home town of mine, Chatham, I can’t say enough about it. The roots are deep here,” said Jenkins in an address to the crowd of nearly 500 that gathered in the Chatham Armoury.
Jenkins greeted fans, signed autographs, and posed for pictures with fans and friends, young and old throughout the proceeedings. The sold out event was a Chatham-Kent Black History Month Celebration, and the official unveiling of Jenkins’ Canada Post Stamp in his hometown of Chatham.
“We have a world class story to tell and we need to tell it,” said Councillor Anne Gilbert who spoke in lieu of an ill Mayor Randy Hope, “When we celebrate stars such as Ferguson Jenkins, that is a part of our story.”
Other local politicians and delegates were on hand to celebrate Black History and Jenkins’ successes including Chatham-Kent-Essex MP Dave Van Kesteren. “We here in Chatham are proud to have one of our own immortalized with baseball greats,” said Van Kesteren as he addressed the crowd.
Fergie Jenkins, who played 18-years of professional baseball, and is enshrined in both the Canadian and MLB Hall of Fames, spent much of his time at the podium talking about friends, family, and the connections he still has to Chatham. When it came time to talk about his own family, Jenkins was visibly moved, and had to step away from the microphone to compose himself.
The event however, was not only about celebrating Jenkins’ life and baseball accomplishments, but also about celebrating Black History Month. Jenkins and other members of the Chatham-Kent community spoke about the importance of Black History in Chatham-Kent, including sites such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Buxton National Historic Site.
“It is very gratifying to see the accomplishments of black Canadians being recognized and recorded for future generations,” said Shannon Prince, curator of the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum in a media release. “The story of our society and our country will be more complete because of it.”
A Canada Post representative who spoke at the event said it was importance to recognize the experiences and accomplishments of Fergie Jenkins, who he called an “influential black Canadian athlete.”
For Fergie Jenkins, this lunch event was a homecoming, and for Chatham-Kent and the many Black Historical organizations in the municipality, it was an opportunity to celebrate one of the region’s most accomplished athletes and human beings.