Black History Month runs from Feb. 1-March 1, 2021. CanPL.ca will feature articles throughout the month profiling the Canadian Premier League’s many outstanding players of colour, as well as stories about their views on the importance of Black History Month.
Pacific FC midfielder Jamar Dixon credits his mom for finding a way to introduce him to Nelson Mandela.
“I was supposed to be in school that day,” Dixon said with a smile in a Zoom call with CanPL.ca.
Dixon, one of several kids in a welcoming party for Mandela in Ottawa on that fateful day in 1998, was only nine-years-old when the South African president visited the nation’s capital as one of the world’s greatest living humanitarians.
“(My mom) thought it’d be a great chance for me to see him and get to know who he is since he’s so iconic in the Black community and someone we should know about,” Dixon recalled. “He’s a person she knew I should study.”
The meeting obviously left a lasting impression on Dixon, who has nominated Mandela as one of his personal heroes for Black History Month.
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Mandela fought against Apartheid – South Africa’s system of institutionalized racial segregation – for nearly half a century. Imprisoned in 1962, Mandela continued to fight until his eventual release 27 years later in 1990. He went on to become the country’s first Black president in 1994 after negotiating the end to Apartheid.
“My mom was very high on educating and knowing people of importance of all races because you might as well learn as much as you can learn,” Dixon explained. “People need to be treated as equals – that’s the most important thing. Regardless of who put him in prison he forgave and cited education, saying maybe they just weren’t aware.”
Dixon, a 31-year-old Ottawa native who has three caps for Canada’s national team, played in nine of Pacific’s matches in 2020, scoring one goal and captaining the side three times.
Dixon, also played a crucial part in Pacific’s leadership group spearheaded by coach Pa-Modou Kah, who was a powerful voice for racial equality during last summer’s Island Games as violence against Black people erupted across the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement made headlines.
“People are starting to see some of those negative things, they are accumulating. It’s obvious now,” Dixon said in recalling Mandela’s impact. “I think a lot of people have opened their eyes and understood some of those difficulties Black people have faced and continue to face today.”