As an avid historian, author and educator, Irene Moore Davis has contributed to her community in multiple ways.
Born and raised in Windsor, Davis is the Manager of Continuing Education for St. Clair College, an English and History teacher, and President of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.
In a recent interview, she said that her family’s commitment to celebrating history sparked her interest in it from an early age.
“My mom was a founding board member at what’s now the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, and my grandmother had such a love for Black history and for recounting the Underground Railroad stories in particular,” Davis shared. “We spent countless evenings looking through historical photos and hearing stories of Black Canadians from every era, especially our ancestors. That really grew my love for history.”
Davis shared that her ancestors arrived in Southwestern, Ontario in the 1840s with some living in Windsor since 1851. As an example, her great great great great aunt Mary Ann Shadd established her own newspaper in Windsor in 1853.
“When she did so, she became the first woman in Canada and the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper,” Davis stated.
Often it is said that to understand your future, you must understand your past first, and Irene Moore Davis is an excellent representation of that.
Davis frequently speaks about Black history in the media, schools, and museums and history conferences. She was one of several U.S. and Canadian authors to contribute chapters to the award-winning book A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderlands, published by Wayne State University Press. Her chapter was about her favourite subject, historic Black Canadian communities in Essex County.
In addition to that, Davis has been finishing up her book called Our Own Two Hands: A History of Black Lives in Windsor from the 1700s Forward, with a planned release of 2021. When Davis is not working on her book, she co-hosts a literary podcast with friends, called All Write in Sin City, serves as Programming Chair for BookFest Windsor, and fulfills various other voluntary roles.
When asked what empowers Davis the most, she mentioned three things: “My support system of friends and family, my faith, and especially my ancestors,” adding, “The way I look at it, my ancestors didn’t go through all the things they went through just for me to sit around and shrug my shoulders.”