Black History Month Highlight – Rev. Dr. William Pearly Oliver

February 19, 2021

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Black History Month Highlight – Rev. Dr. William Pearly Oliver

Throughout February, Crandall University is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting some of the men and women who have been part of the growth of diversity and equality in Atlantic Canada. As a Christian university founded by Baptistssome of the stories will also give a nod to that Baptist heritage. 

This highlight looks at Rev. Dr. William Pearly Oliver. 

Rev. Dr. William Pearly Oliver (1912-1989) 

A graduate of Acadia University (BA 1934, BDiv 1936), William Pearly Oliver wathe first African Nova Scotian to graduate with two university degrees. After graduating and working at the Windsor Plains Baptist Church for a year, Oliver followed a call to serve at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church (now New Horizons Baptist Church), where he served for 25 years. This church, coined the “Mother Church” of the African United Baptist Association, was also the first church in Nova Scotia to be operated by members of a Black community.   

After a visit to the United States in 1949, Oliver became passionate about educational opportunities for Black communities and dedicated himself to striving to improve the education system, which he accomplished in several ways through his role as a representative in the Department of Education’s Division of Adult Education.  

WillaPearly Oliver did much to further the rights of the Black community, and over the course of his life was involved in the establishment of the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (1945), the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (1967), the Black United Front (1969), and the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia (1983).  

To learn more about him and the contributions he made throughout his seventy-seven years, read the articles below. 

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