Mrs. K. Livingstone, founder, Congress of Black Women of Canada 1971.
Kay’s ancestors came from Cayuga and settled in the Chatham/London area during the early 19th century. Her early education and training was in the city of London and in Toronto, where she excelled in Drama and Speech Arts at The Royal Conservatory of Music, and later at the Ontario College of Music in Ottawa.
Her father, James Jenkins, an Assistant Judge of the Juvenile Court in London and a leading figure in the local black community, and her mother Christina, instilled in her a concept of community awareness. One of the Province’s earliest black newspapers, The Dawn of Tomorrow founded by Kay’s parents had a great influence on her interest in black history and the contributions of black people in North America.
After leaving London, Kay worked as a civil servant in Ottawa, where she met and married George Livingstone of Antigua. During this same period, she hosted her own radio show, The Kathleen Livingstone Show, featuring poetry and music. At this time, she also became an accomplished horsewoman. Kay and George established their home in Toronto, where George founded his own contracting firm, and they raised a family of five children. She continued to be actively involved in performing arts appearing as one of Canada’s leading black actresses, receiving very favourable reviews, in the amateur and professional stage, and television and motion pictures. In addition to her interest in the performing arts Kay was concerned with promoting Canadian understanding of black people and their contributions. She also hosted The Kay Livingstone Show on CBC, CKEY, and CFPL (London), dealing with the traditions and cultural activities of black peoples of the World.
Kay served the general community and Canadian blacks with distinction as: the Founding President of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (now known as the Congress of Black Women), Past President of the Women’s Section, United Nations Association; Chair, International Affairs of Local Council of YWCA; Regional Chair of the National Black Coalition; Moderator, Heritage Ontario, Appeals Board of Legal Aid; Chair, Canadian Commission of Canadian Council of Churches; Member of the Advertising Women’s Club of Toronto; and as Public Relations Consultant.
Kay Livingstone pioneered the cause of Black Women in Canada, and was an advocate of social justice for all individuals. She pursued these objectives with a sense of dedication, integrity, and perseverance for which the Canadian public can be grateful.
Kay died suddenly in 1974, while returning from Mexico. She will long be remembered not only for the work among minority groups, but for her work in the performing arts.
In 1989, Mrs. Gwen Jenkins started the London Chapter of the Congress of Black Women of Canada and become the first president. Gwen passed away in 1996. Presently, the London Chapter of the Congress offers scholarships in memory of both Kay Livingstone and Gwen Jenkins.