James Jenkins and The Dawn of Tomorrow
Site of the first convention of the Canadian League for the Advancement of Coloured People, 1927 It “is not what we were yesterday, not yet is it what we are today that gives us so much hope, but it is, according to the handwriting on the wall, what we shall be tomorrow. And thus we have chosen our name: The Dawn of Tomorrow” Robert Paris Edwards, Associate Editor Dawn of Tomorrow, July 14, 1923
Backstory and Context
Following WWI, the Black community in London began slowly to grow again, rising to about 250 people by 1930. This was the estimate made by the Canadian League for the Advancement of Coloured People, an organization founded in London in 1924. The League, whose leadership included both Black and White Londoners, was organized “to improve the condition of the coloured people of Canada,” particularly through the provision of educational opportunities for the young.
The founding of the League was mainly the work of James F. Jenkins, a Georgia native who had been a resident of London since 1907. The League had an official newspaper, The Dawn of Tomorrow, which Jenkins had founded in 1923. The Dawn carried news of interest to the Black community, much of it originating in the United States. It also brought the Black communities in other Ontario towns and cities closer together by listing their activities in columns of social and church notices. It was also Jenkins’s intention to “chronicle any achievements of (the) people and any advance that would spur young people to self effort.”
James Jenkins died suddenly following surgery in 1931. His widow Christina (later Mrs. Frank Howson), who had, from the beginning, supported and encouraged her husband’s work, carried on the publication of The Dawn of Tomorrow with the help of her large family. The success of the newspaper, at first a weekly and then a monthly publication, is a testament to the efforts of the Jenkins family. At its height about 1971, it had a total circulation of 48,000, and 21,000 subscribers in various parts of the world.
Full files of the newspaper are at the Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library and the Archives at Western University.