By: Himisha Nagar
The special month of February is known as the month in which Black History is remembered and recognized. We remember the notable persons who made a great difference in society, and acknowledge the individuals who may be one of the reasons why we are where we are today, the sacrifices they made, and the bravery they demonstrated.
One such personality who truly made an impactful change in Canada was Lincoln Alexander. Born Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, he is known as the man of many firsts. Born in a time when being black was seen as a nothing short of a life set to be filled with misgivings, he broke those race barriers and brought attention to Black Canadians. Living a very simple and penurious childhood, with his father being a carpenter and mother being a maid, Alexander did not live a comfortable and wealthy life in his youthful days. In 1942, at the age of 20, he served Canada in the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) for World War II until 1945. After this, as the first person in his family to pursue higher learning, he attended McMaster University and graduated with a BA in History and Political Economy in 1949. He went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School where he was called to the bar in 1953. In 1955, he went on to achieve another first by becoming partner at Canada’s first interracial law firm, Duncan and Alexander.
In 1965, Mr Alexander was given the honour of being appointed in Queen’s Counsel. he then became the first Black Canadian to be elected as a Member of Parliament to the Canadian House of Commons on the Progressive Conservative Party in 1968, a seat he retained for four consecutive Federal elections. This was a very big accomplishment and signified the entrance of Black Canadians in the Canadian justice system. In 1985, he was elected to serve as the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, being the first African-Canadian man to receive this prestigious honour.
Mr. Lincoln Alexander was an entity that was, and will always be, someone remembered for their courage and dedication in successfully garnering a high position in the Canadian government whilst being a visible minority. Especially at a time when minorities were not given any opportunities or recognition. Mr. Alexander is such a notable individual in Canadian history that there are several schools in the province of Ontario named after him (Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School founded in 1968 in Mississauga, Lincoln Alexander Elementary School founded in 1990 in Hamilton, Lincoln Alexander Public School founded in 1992 in Ajax and Lincoln Alexander Public School founded in 2004 in Markham), multiple award-winning books written on him, and of course, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to his name.