Meet Viola Desmond, A Black Civil Rights Icon Gracing Canada’s $10 Bill

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Women’s History Month is coming to a close, but we are continuing to create more valuable moments for the books.

In Canada, they have honored civil rights leader Viola Desmond by placing her gorgeous face and neatly coiffed hair on their newest $10 bill.

Nine years before a white man demanded that Rosa Parks give up her seat in the whites-only section of a Montgomery, Alabama bus, Desmond committed a similar act.

In 1946, Desmond was passing some time in a whites-only movie theatre while her car was getting repaired in a town near Halifax. The floor seats were for whites as the balcony seats were for blacks. The price difference was a single penny.

Desmond, who was shortsighted, was denied a ticket to the ground seats. She bought a ticket to the balcony, but bravely still sat in the bottom portion of the theatre.

According to, Desmond was dragged out of the theatre by police and in jail for 12 hours for tax evasion.

Until her death in 1965, Desmond fought to overturn her conviction. That wish was posthumously granted in 2010, by Nova Scotia’s first black female lieutenant-governor Mayann Francis.

Desmond’s legacy was forever memorialized this month as she was chosen out of over thousands of entries to be placed on the banknote.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Mint and Treasury announced that for the first time the 24 karat gold coin — worth $100 — will feature a black woman as Lady Liberty.

The woman’s profile details her full lips, braided hair into a messy bun, a crown made of stars — assumed from the American flag — and slight tension in her face by her eyebrow.

This, according to, is the first of a series of minority influenced coins.

Currently, the only minority illustrated on currency is the Sacagawea dollar coin and the only woman is of Susan B. Anthony. Anthony’s coin retired in 2000.

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