Lincoln Alexander was a trailblazer who championed racial equality throughout his entire life. He paved the way for Black people to enter public service. Over the course of his long career, his many achievements were significant and monumental.
January 21 is known as Lincoln Alexander Day and this year also marks his 100th birthday. It is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of a man who dedicated his entire life to his community and his country.
Born in Toronto in 1922, Alexander came from humble beginnings. He was the son of West Indian immigrants – his father worked as a railway porter and his mother a maid.
In 1968, Alexander became the first Black person to be elected a seat in the House of Commons. He went on to represent Hamilton West for 12 years. During his final year in Parliament, he became the first Black Cabinet Minister when he was appointed Minister of Labour.
After federal politics, he served as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor from 1985 to 1991. His mandate focused on youth and education and the Lincoln M. Alexander Award was created in his honour. It annually recognizes youth who have demonstrated leadership in eliminating racial discrimination in Ontario.
In addition to these many achievements, he also served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
In 2014, the federal government designated January 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day.
Lincoln Alexander’s legacy lives on today as we work towards racial equality. He continues to inspire and demonstrate the importance of representation.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Peter Thompson, Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW)