Grenfell Campus honours Lanier Phillips during Black History Month

Gary Kean
Published on February 26, 2014
Kelicia Letlow-Peroune, left, and Crystal Young, both students at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook, unveiled this plaque honouring Lanier Phillips to mark Black History Month at the university Wednesday.
Star photo by Gary Kean

A man whose life was forever changed because of a fateful experience with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians has been honoured with a plaque and a student award named after him at Grenfell campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook.

The school’s International Student Association Caucus chose to recognize Lanier Phillips in that way as part of its celebration of Black History Month Wednesday.

Mr. Phillips was an African-American man among several sailors shipwrecked off the coast of St. Lawrence on the Burin Peninsula in 1942. He became inspired by the kindness of the men and women of that community, who treated him with respect as they nursed him back to health. After his return to the United States, he began a lifelong fight against racial discrimination and advocated for racial equality.

He returned to Newfoundland and Labrador, and St. Lawrence in particular, several times. In 2008, Memorial University of Newfoundland conferred him with the doctor of laws degree for his fight against discrimination.

 He died at the age of 88 in March 2012, shortly after his final visit to St. Lawrence for the 70th anniversary of the shipwreck of his navy ship, the USS Truxtun.

In addition to a plaque bearing the likeness of Mr. Phillips and a description of his contributions to black history, an annual award will also be established in his name. The award will be presented to an international student at Grenfell Campus in recognition of their contribution to their community.