Running Uphill showcases Harry Jerome’s race upon the treadmill of ‘race,’ where progress against racism is glacial, even for an Olympic sprinter. Fil Fraser explains this pernicious irony, this very Canadian paradox, in masterful, beautiful prose. His humour is a razor; his honesty is a guillotine. In Fraser’s bio, heroic Jerome looms larger than life and too fast for anyone to weight him down with labels.
George Elliott Clarke, Laureate, 2005-08
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize
Canadian Sprinter Harry Jerome was the world’s fastest man. He represented Canada in Olympic, Commonwealth and Pan American Games, simultaneously holding world records for both the 100-yard and 100-metre sprints. This is the heroic story of a young Black man who overcame crushing adversity to achieve national acclaim as an athlete and as a champion of human rights.
When he was eleven, his family bought a heritage home in North Vancouver only to face a neighbourhood petition demanding their eviction. As he was making a name for himself in track and field, the Canadian sports press vilified him when he failed to finish two critical races because of serious injuries. However, despite the many challenges for a Black athlete in the 1960s, Jerome made Canadian sports history by winning the bronze medal in the 100-metre sprint at the Tokyo Olympics and gold medals at both the Commonwealth and Pan American Games.
Jerome is immortalized by a graceful statue in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, as well as by the multi-sport Harry Jerome Centre in North Vancouver. The Harry Jerome Awards, sponsored by the Black Business and Professional Association, are held annually in Toronto.