|'Canada Lee' a book by Frances Lee|
To the Reader:
My late husband, Canada Lee, died on May 9, 1952. Because my memories of him are so very alive, both Canada and I will be telling you the story of his life and my years with him.
Throughout this narrative, you will be reading his words as well as my own regarding events as he described them to me. Frequently, we will use the vernacular of that era, some 50 to 60 years ago, words that are no longer widely used.
Let me also explain why so much time passed without my writing a book. First and foremost, it took a wonderful man, Howard Dodson, the Chief of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to point his finger at me during a luncheon which took place in 1999 and say, “Your memories of him are so vivid, you do not have the right NOT to write a book about Canada!”
Over the years since his death, there have been several magazine editors, as well as literary agents, who have asked me to write a biography of Canada. However, in each case, I felt they were only interested in using our interracial marriage to make money. I am grateful to have been raised by tolerant, idealistic parents who taught me to choose friends on the basis of their character and intelligence, and not because of their race or religion. My relationship with Canada was a bond of deep love, and I refuse to allow anyone to sully it.
My desire is to share with you my recollections of the unusual boy who grew up to be an extraordinary man who always fought against injustices. His life was picturesque, yet full of frustrations and great sorrows. Admirably, Canada never lost his will to overcome adversity.
I am most grateful that the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture exists. It is there that the Canada Lee Collection resides, along with those of many other great Americans. The Canada Lee Scholarship Fund is also being held at The Schomburg Center, where it is protected until it can begin to help other young talent. All revenues generated from this book and any resulting projects will go directly into the Canada Lee Scholarship Fund.
Following my husband’s death, Oscar Hammerstein II, in his eulogy, “Farewell to a Friend” stated, “…He gave all of himself to us. Let us never forget to be grateful for the gift…”
Canada opened my eyes to the great beauty of life. I lived with him through the hardship of the Blacklist and the fear that permeated the entire entertainment industry. He refused to bow down or buckle under. His unbelievable strength never flagged.
There are other versions of my late husband’s life, some of which sadly contain innumerable errors, misstatements and misinterpretations. This is the true story.
Sincerely, Frances Lee Pearson