Black History Month: Champion Jack Dupree – Calderdale saves the best for last

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October. Stoptober. Halloween. Seems like there’s no shortage of happenings in this month. It may take a fair bit to draw our attention from personal achievements and our quest to enjoy Halloween, much as we can with current restrictions.

Black History Month is also celebrated in October. And for Calderdale, believe you me, it comes with a punch!

My colleague forwarded me a forward, a nugget of information about World famous Jazz musician -and professional boxer!- Champion Jack Dupree, having lived ’round the corner’ in little old Ovenden of all places! What a goldmine!

To me Jack Dupree was a name I vaguely recognised. I wasn’t into jazz until about a couple of hours since I received the link. What completely fascinated me was to know that a celebrity of this magnitude lived in my neck of the woods!

I first viewed the video, then I looked up the man himself. Orphaned at infancy after the criminal activity of the KKK, going through the care system, braving the road, becoming a professional fighter then finding his gift for music, teaching himself to play the piano, moving to Europe to escape prejudice and finding love here in Halifax on his way to stardom!

To think that this passed by our doorstep should fill us with pride.

View the YouTube video for yourselves!

I am writing this whilst listening to the music of the man himself. The style is not what I would usually go for yet every note brings smile after smile and even laughter to my face.

The life of Champion Jack Dupree epitomises everything Black History Month stands for. A life almost ruined by institutionalised prejudice. Overcoming hardships such a start can bring about. Gumption, courage and following your inner voice. Becoming a beacon and shaping the World.

This is one of Calderdale’s very own historic gems with regards to celebrating Black History Month. Jack Dupree’s life demonstrates how all the efforts, all the strife, all the work done and still needs doing has achieved so much. It woke us to the error of our ways and made us more human. It highlighted the absurdity of excluding a group of people from basic human dignity, privileges of health and education we take for granted. It gave, amongst other things, one human being the ability to reach across the ages and touch the heart of another. Despite this becoming more prominent it is far from an isolated case.

The possibility that we may have been denied this privilege, that millions would have not experienced this privilege, the possibility that millions of voices might never have had the chance to be, doesn’t even bear thinking.

Before you go, a treat: Calderdale Council celebrates Jack Dupree!