StFX once again celebrated the legacy and dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a call to action during its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration held on Jan. 18.
Keynote speaker, Nova Scotia social activist Lynn Jones, shared stories of her actions as an activist in the hopes that the sharing will inspire and make links to today’s anti-racism work.
“I hope the sharing will help you in your activities, and instill the value of lifelong activism,” Ms. Jones said to the large crowd on hand in Dennis Hall for the public lecture presented by StFX’s Office for Students of African Descent in collaboration with the Human Rights and Equity Office.
“I hope it will open the door to discussion of your activism.”
Every year, StFX honours Martin Luther King Jr. Day—an American holiday observed on the third Monday of January, marking the Jan. 15th birthday of Rev. King—by inviting influential African Canadian individuals who have made important contributions to the improvement of the lives and/or the civil rights of all people.
Throughout her talk, “From the Boomers to the iGens – Has the anti-racism dialogue changed?, Ms. Jones wove personal stories and recalled anecdotal accounts, connecting them with the struggle for reparations for African people globally.
“Today we’re gathered to celebrate a great person, a giant of a person,” she said as she noted that as a boomer, she can recall the days of Dr. King, as she shared the feelings and moods of the time.
She also spoke to those gathered about grassroots labour programs she attended at StFX in years past, and the influence of these programs and of the Coady International Institute in her life, and how education wasn’t just in the halls of academia, but through these program moved throughout the community and into rural areas.
Michael Fisher, StFX’s African Descent Student Advisor, and Human Rights and Equity Advisor Marie Brunelle, both spoke at the event, saying they are convinced it is still relevant and important to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on campus.
“We still have an achievement gap in education,” Mr. Fisher noted. “Martin Luther King’s dream is not yet fully realized. Education has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. The goal is not insurmountable when we stand together,” he said.
“We are both convinced it is still relevant in 2016 to celebrate this day and reflect on the topic of racial equality,” Ms. Brunelle said as she encouraged audience members to think about what they can do as an individual and as an institution to reach this equality.
Also speaking at the ceremony was first year arts student Rebecca Mesoy, who introduced the keynote speaker.
Ms. Jones is a proud African Canadian born and raised in Truro, NS. She has over 30 years experience as a federal public service employee, and extensive experience in the Canadian Labour Movement. Ms. Jones became the first Black person to join the executive ranks of the largest union in Canada, becoming the first general vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress and national vice-president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union. She co-chaired the first national union Anti-Racism task force conducted in Canada. She has spent much time assisting communities in their development and in coordinating diversity, employment equity, and embracing change initiatives. She is recipient of many awards including the Queens Medal, Congress of Black Women Women of Excellence award, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour Human Rights Award and is a national and internationally acclaimed speaker and facilitator.
Past speakers at the event have included Henderson Paris, Wanda Robson, Dr. Henry Bishop, Dr. Rocky Jones, Tony Ince, and Sylvia Hamilton.