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Lila Iriburiro HappyFourth-year political science student Lila Iriburiro Happy recalls the 1956 visit to Windsor by Martin Luther King Jr. in an essay on the legacy of the Nobel laureate.

Student explores local connection to civil rights leader

Exploring the connection of Martin Luther King Jr. to Windsor-Essex provides unique insight, says Lila Iriburiro Happy.

A fourth-year law and politics major, she is currently a project assistant for initiatives against anti-Black racism in the Office of the Vice-President, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; president of the Windsor Model United Nations; and an editorial assistant for Racialized Academics and Advocates Centering Equity and Solidarity.

In a piece she wrote in observance of the U.S. celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Iriburiro Happy recalls Dr. King’s 1956 appearance at Emancipation Day celebrations in Jackson Park, his first visit to Canada.

She reflects on her own experience as an international student who has gone from being perceived as African to being racialized as Black.

“Although enslaved African Americans escaped to Canada seeking freedom, this alone does not mend the systemic racism in the past and present. Therefore, decolonizing historic narratives and the education system is paramount to honour Black people and the transgenerational work of Dr. King,” Iriburiro Happy concludes.

Read the entire essay, entitled “Honouring Dr. King: In Windsor, in education, and in historic narrative.”