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The Letters: Postmark Prejudice in Black and White
Sheila White, a talented musician, community champion, skilled politico, environmentalist and lay chaplain, now adds author to her impressive list of accomplishments.
The Letters: Postmark Prejudice in Black and White celebrated its Official Launch in Toronto on July 18, 2023. Visit the Events page for upcoming opportunities to meet Sheila White, have her sign your copy of The Letters and learn more about her parents' remarkable story..
Vivian Keeler is an intelligent, attractive and determined white woman from a traditional Nova Scotia family who risks it all by falling in love with a Black man. Billy White is a charismatic and gifted member of a prominent Black family; he’s the brother of celebrated classical singer Portia White and the son of a renowned Black minister who garnered fame as an officer during the First World War. Vivian and Billy meet at a lunch counter in Halifax. During the next several months their casual friendship blossoms into romance. But the courtship that follows unleashes a torrent of racist rants that expose the pervasive bigotry of the late 1940s. The Letters: Postmark Prejudice in Black and White chronicles a passion that transcends deeply rooted taboos and sparks an orchestrated campaign to persuade Vivian “not to marry outside her race.” As the pressure mounts, Vivian and Billy find strength in their shared affection. But will it be enough to overcome their own doubts about the viability of a future together?
What Readers Say
“A must read. Sheila has brilliantly woven a beautiful tapestry of the letters, historical fact and fiction in her parents’ love story.”
Bev Salmon, O.C. (December 25, 1930 - July 6, 2023)
Award-winning community leader and formerToronto politician
"Dear Cousin, so glad to hear of the completion of the book. It was a work of love for you and a story history books in school would not have told. Most of us have very routine lives yet when you realized that in a past generation something remarkable occurred, you didn't want it to be forgotten. This then pushes one out of their comfort zone to set history right, as you have done. Congratulations."
President, Harlow Family Association
(Sheila White and Carol Ferreira trace their shared ancestry to
Sgt. William Harlow - 1625-1691 - of Plymouth, Massachusetts)
"I read my copy all through the night until around 9am. Just couldn't put it down."
Pancheta (Pat) Barnett
President, East York Historical Society
"I loved the book, not liked, loved!"
"The 'story' flows flawlessly, and you write so well. And it's a story that must be told."
Linda G. Layton
"The Letters: Postmark Prejudice in Black and White is a fascinating read, particularly for those who don't recognize the contributions of people like Sheila White’s parents to a more egalitarian society today."
Former Toronto Star city hall reporter and Fixer columnist
"In our contemporary world where young people are disowned for who they are and who they choose to love, Vivian Keeler and Billy White’s triumphant inter-racial love story is truly one for our times. Sheila White navigates us through their stormy courtship, the racist opposition they faced, even from those they loved, through to their marriage, political and community involvements and the birth of their children. Loyalty and commitment to a just world propelled Billy while a young but determined Vivian struggled to fend off her family who were against her plans to marry a Black man in 1940’s Canada. Settle in for a passionate, revealing and made in Canada love story set against the racial restrictions and social codes of the times."
SYLVIA D. HAMILTON
Filmmaker and writer who produced and directed the documentary Portia White: Think on Me
"I enjoyed the book so much, if ‘enjoy’ is the right word for what is, at times, a painful read. I couldn’t believe the letters you reprinted. . . .I hope review copies are going out to ‘Canada’s History’ and the ‘Ontario History Journal,’ etc. Your book, and Vivian’s diaries and materials, will be so valuable to scholars."
"I'm going to recommend it to everyone I know."
Author of Memoirs of a Hippie Girl in India
Author of A Passion for Survival: The True Story of Marie Anne and Louis Payzant in Eighteenth-Century Nova Scotia