Valerie Jerome

A tale of courage and conviction, Races is the difficult, yet inspiring story of the Jerome family: what propelled them in life, and on the track.


The inside track on an under-told story about the intersection of race and sports in Canada.

In the 1960s, Harry Jerome set 7 world records, including the 100-yard dash, earning him the title of the world’s fastest man. His grandfather, John “Army” Howard, was Canada’s first Black Olympian, running in Stockholm in 1912 against nearly impossible odds. Harry’s sister, Valerie, competed for Canada at the 1960 Rome Olympics. With Races, Valerie Jerome sets the record straight on her heroic family’s history, and the racism they fought along the way — from their community, the press, their country, and even inside their family home.

Races tracks Harry’s life through his inimitable athletic career and into his work as an advocate for youth sport and education. Bringing readers inside the Jerome household, Races reveals the hurdles they faced during the heavily segregated ’60s and the long reach of racism that plagued their family history.

A tale of courage and conviction, Races is the difficult, yet inspiring story of the Jerome family: what propelled them in life and on the track.

The granddaughter of Canada’s first Black Olympian, John “Army” Howard, Valerie Jerome became Canadian senior women’s champion in the sprints and long jump at the age of 15 in 1959 and went on to represent Canada at the 1960 Rome Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and the Pan American Games (where she won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metre relay).

Jerome’s brother Harry was one of the most recognizable Black Canadian athletes in the 1960s. He set a total of seven world records and competed for Canada at the 1960, 1964, and 1968 Summer Olympics, as well as the Pan-American and Commonwealth Games. He won Gold medals in the Pan-American and Commonwealth Games and a Bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games.

Away from the track, Jerome has represented the Green Party of British Columbia and is a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal and a City of Vancouver Heritage Award for her work in conservation. She has also served as a board member for numerous organizations, including Achilles Track & Field, the Black Educators of BC, the Junior Black Achievement Awards, and Vancouver Youth Theatre, and has spoken at numerous schools and community events.

Valerie Jerome is a former Canadian track and field star who represented Canada at the 1960 Olympics in Rome alongside her brother Harry Jerome. Valerie opens up about the racism she faced as a black woman growing up in Canada.

This event is presented in partnership with the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library

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Author Reading

The author talk will be Valerie Jerome talking about her memoir, her writing process, and having lively Q&A with the crowd.

This is an opportunity for fans of memoirs, books and fans of Valerie to hear from, and meet the author.

The seating is limited so if you love hearing great stories from one of our best Canadian writers, get your ticket today!

March 1, 2024
7:00-8:30 p.m
Reading Only:

Owen Sound
Library Auditorium

Writing Workshop

The writing workshop will have Valerie Jerome hosting amateur, and experienced writers through her methods.

This workshop will concentrate on how to organize and begin to put together your own memoir. If you want to participate in important conversations, or are interested in writing your own memoir, join us and learn from for the writing workshop, or for both events!

March 2, 2024
1:00-3:00 p.m
Workshop Only:

Owen Sound
Library Auditorium