The Hour-A Day Study Club is the longest running, non-profit, Black female driven organization in Canada. Established in 1934, The Hour-A-Day Study Club provides African-Canadian youth, that are descendants of the Underground Railroad and historically Black Canadian communities, with scholarship funds to help finance their post-secondary education. Each year, students graduating from high school within the Windsor/Essex County community are eligible to apply.
The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is a widely known and powerful belief system that is the foundation of many communities worldwide. For the Hour-A-Day Study Club women, this proverb still rings true over eight decades after the establishment of the organization. The Hour-A-Day Study Club, founded in February of 1934 by 15* Black women from the WindsorEssex county community, were descendants of the Underground Railroad. These hardworking, dedicated, ad modest women were matriarchs in their homes, churches, and community.
The dedicated efforts of these women were passed down generation after generation. It is imperative to recognize their contributions and place in Canadian history. When first established, the Hour-A-Day Study Club was known as the Mother’s Club. The women spent much of their time nurturing the youth in the community and advocating with families on issues such as equitable access to education and working against segregation in Ontario schools. The Club’s name eventually changed to The Hour-A-Day Study Club to convey the notion that if you spend at least one hour a day on something that is of interest to you, you will soon be able to master that skill over time.
The Hour-A-Day Study Club proudly recognizes that it is the oldest Black women’s organization in Canada. Former Club President, Mrs. Gloria Hidi, created the acronym D.O.T.U.R (Daughters Of The Underground Railroad) to describe who the Club members are and what they represent. The membership legacy continues as there are third and even fourth-generation members that are part of the Club today. Many of the members can trace their Underground Railroad heritage back at least six or seven generations.
Exploring the Hour-A-Day Study Club’s documented history is like stepping into a time capsule that reveals our world almost nine decades ago. We are fortunate enough to have the Amherstburg Freedom Museum house many of our archives. An extraordinary piece of information included in the Club’s meeting minutes taken April 4, 1968, reveals the precise moment the women stopped the meeting and said a prayer in recognition of live news broadcast reports of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. The Club would send a telegram to the King family to offer condolences. The meetings also served as an opportunity for the women to meet and discuss topics important to the local community and larger global issues that would impact the Black population in Canada and the United States.
Books, art, and travel were also popular topics of discussion. Meetings were about culture and “uplifting the race.” These women lived in an era where anti-Black racism was arguably perceived as more overt than today. Black people in the United States still did not have the right to vote, and Black people in Windsor were victims of housing and job discrimination and endured many more of the indignities that continue to plague our modern society. The women hosted annual cultural programming events featuring various local and internationally known entertainers. Additionally, the club organized High-Tea events for prominent Black women, such as education pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune and, the first Black woman to run for President of the United States, Ms. Shirley Chisholm. These women also lent their voices to theCivil Rights Movement at home and abroad during the 1950’ and 60’s. However, promoting and advocating for the cause of education was and remained at the forefront of the Club’s efforts.
Dismantling anti-Black racism is at the core of the Hour-A-Day Study Club’s work. The efforts made to raise funds for scholarships and bursaries help eliminate potential barriers Black youth face in pursuit of post-secondary education. This work is vital to the cultural preservation and legacy of trailblazing women; D.O.T.U.R.’s, whose strength, resilience, and perseverance, is revered and shall endure for another 87 years.
Education is the passport to the future. ~ Malcolm X