Irene Moore Davis’ (Hons. BA ‘93) passionate contributions to the research and teaching of Black history in Windsor and Essex County has earned her a 2015 UWindsor History Department Community Heritage Medal.
This is the first year the department has given the medals, which recognize outstanding achievement in raising the profile of local history and heritage throughout Essex, Lambton and Kent Counties. Five were awarded this year.
“I’m honoured and happy to accept this in my name, but also on behalf of the whole Essex County Black Historical Research Society, since we are a small but dedicated team who collaborate wonderfully to get a lot done,” says Moore Davis.
Through her prominent roles in local history organizations, Moore Davis has spearheaded public commemorations and intensive research into Windsor and Essex County’s Black History. She is a founding member and former president of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.
She is also involved in the Underground Railroad Monument Committee, responsible for the Tower of Freedom monument on Pitt Street in downtown Windsor.
“I grew up in Windsor and my family has been here since the mid-19th century,” says Moore Davis.
“I had the benefit of being trained under two great local community historians - my mom and my grandmother. They gave me an entrée into the ways of research and interviewing and definitely stoked the fire.”
History professor Miriam Wright served on the committee to choose the inaugural medal recipients and says Moore Davis’ contributions to enhancing a broad understanding of Black history in the Windsor area are varied, invaluable, and enduring.
“The history of black settlement to this region is important. It’s a national and international story, and we’re right at the heart of it. There are so many people and stories out there but in an aging community stories start to fragment. Irene is reaching out to these people and recording their stories before they are lost forever.”
In addition to the research and public projects she has undertaken, Moore Davis is involved with the African-Canadian Roads to Freedom Project, which is helping the Greater Essex County District School Board integrate African-Canadians into its history curriculum.
“Instead of complaining that we don’t have enough black history content in local schools, we supply resources that make it easier for teachers,” says Moore Davis. “We offer the tools they need to teach more about black history.”
Moore Davis officially accepted the medal at the Annual General Meeting of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society on June 18, 2015.