Hamiltonians pay tribute to Lincoln Alexander on ‘his’ day

By Lincoln DePradine

All of Canada claims the late Lincoln Alexander. However, he holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Hamilton, Ontario, where he lived beginning as a teenager until his death in 2012.

Lincoln Alexander

The Afro Canadian Caribbean Association (ACCA) in Hamilton, for example, has held an annual commemorative event each year on “Lincoln Alexander Day’’, which was last Sunday.

For this year’s “Celebration Honouring the Legacies of Lincoln Alexander and Martin Luther King, Jr’’, the association said it wanted to “commemorate the remarkable lives and exceptional achievements of these two extraordinary individuals’’.

The ACCA event included an address by Dr. Clare Warner, senior advisor for equity, inclusion and anti-racism at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Kamal Khera

Ontario officially proclaimed January 21 as “Lincoln Alexander Day in 2013. It was recognized nationwide in 2015.

This year’s main event in the province was the unveiling of a commemorative bronze bust of Alexander at the legislative building at Queen’s Park.

Alexander, a former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor, enjoyed a career that spanned the fields of politics and military and academic service.

His life’s activities are documented in his memoir, titled “Go to School, You’re a Little Black Boy’’, which was published in 2006.

He was recognized by having a commemorative stamp produced in his honour and several schools – including one in Hamilton – have been named for him.

Clare Warner

Hamilton, where Alexander studied at McMaster University to earn his first degree in economics and history in 1949, also is home to the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway.

As well, Toronto Metropolitan University has named its law school after Alexander.

In 1992, Alexander was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada and to the Order of Ontario.

Alexander’s “unwavering advocacy for Black Canadians and commitment to promoting equity through social justice, education, race relations and youth issues make him a role model for present and future generations’’, federal government minister Kamal Khera said in a statement marking Lincoln Alexander Day 2024.

Alexander, had he been alive, would have celebrated his 102nd birthday last Sunday.

“Throughout his life, he also paved the way for the advancement and equality of Canadians from all backgrounds. As a trailblazer, he used his voice and platform to defend the rights and interests of marginalized communities, tirelessly working to promote inclusion by breaking down racial and ethnocultural barriers,’’ said Khera, minister of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, in a message on Lincoln Alexander Day, described him as an “Ontario trailblazer and a great Canada’’; someone who “worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination and make our province a better and more equitable place’’.

“We can all learn from the example of Lincoln Alexander as we work together to build a province that is free of discrimination and offers opportunities for all,’’ the premier said in the message, which was read on his behalf at last Sunday’s bust unveiling ceremony at Queen’s Park, by Conservative MPP Patrice Barnes, parliamentary assistant to education minister Stephen Lecce.