Windsor celebrates the launch of Dr. Howard D. McCurdy’s autobiography

Last week, the University of Windsor, in collaboration with Toronto poet George Elliott Clarke, played host to a notable book launch and signing event for “Black Activist, Black Scientist, Black Icon: The Autobiography of Dr. Howard D. McCurdy.” The just-published work delves into the life of one of Canada’s most influential figures in science, civil rights advocacy, and Canadian politics.

Illustration in the book

Held in one of the university’s expansive atriums, the event was a celebration of McCurdy’s extraordinary contributions to academia, politics, and civil rights. As the first Black person to hold a tenure-track position at a Canadian university, achieved during his time at the University of Windsor, and the second Black elected to Parliament, Dr. McCurdy’s life story is a tapestry of pioneering achievements.

Brenda McCurdy, alongside writer/editor George Elliott Clarke, took to the podium, providing attendees with valuable insights into her late husband’s life, his profound impact on students and colleagues, and his enduring legacy within the Black community.

FROM LEFT George Elliott Clarke, Gregg French, moderator, and Brenda McCurdy

Howard McCurdy, recognized as the first Black tenured professor and a founder of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, left an indelible mark on Canadian politics. Known for naming the New Democratic Party, he was working on his autobiography when he passed away in 2018. George Elliott Clarke, who served as McCurdy’s House of Commons aide from 1987-1991, undertook the responsibility of completing the book posthumously.

“Dr. Howard McCurdy is the author of this autobiography. Period,” emphasizes George Elliott Clarke in the introduction to “Black Activist, Black Scientist, Black Icon….but in July 2017, seven months before his [decease], he requested that I edit this work, which was already progressing toward a conclusion.”

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the 64-year-old writer George Elliott Clarke now resides in the Greater Toronto Area. Canada’s seventh parliamentary poet laureate, Clarke brought a wealth of literary expertise to the completion of McCurdy’s autobiography.

Clarke’s involvement in editing and finalizing the memoir came as a result of McCurdy’s request. Clarke expressed gratitude for the opportunity, noting, “The man can write, good people.” Clarke emphasized that McCurdy’s self-sacrifice, avant-garde thought, and unwavering pride in his Black identity.

The book launch not only served as a tribute to Dr. Howard D. McCurdy but also highlighted the collaborative effort between a passionate writer and a dedicated editor. The autobiography promises to be a significant addition to Canadian literary and historical discourse, celebrating the life of a trailblazer whose influence still reverberates through the realms of academia, civil rights, and politics.

In January Clarke gave the McCurdy’s book its official Toronto launch at the Blackhurst / Different Booklist cultural centre on Bathurst St. Now back in Toronto, he will be giving a number of public talks not about the book but politics and poetry.

“Tonight (Thursday), I will be at St. Mike’s College, Italian Studies, in the city, discussing the connections between Italo and Black Canadian communities.” Clarke told the Caribbean Camera

Following this, on Sunday, March 24, Clarke will be at the Laurier Art Gallery from 2 PM to 5 PM, where a “Sunday Salon” of poets will take place. The event will feature a delightful mix of poetry, complemented by wine, water, and delectable food, generously provided by a poetry-loving benefactor. It promises to be an excellent afternoon for all attendees.