BLACK IN TORONTO: Remembering the late great Lincoln Alexander, who pledged to speak for those who are discriminated against

News Jan 21, 2016 by Rosemary Sadlier Bloor West Villager

Lincoln Alexander (Jan. 21, 1922 to Oct. 19, 2012) was born in Toronto to Caribbean parents; his father taking the work that was open to most African-Canadian men at that time as a porter on the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

In Toronto he attended Earl Grey Public School where he was the only black child in his class and later Riverdale Collegiate where there were at least three other black families.

Given the isolation and discrimination of the time, he found himself needing to fight for his dignity while balancing that with knowing ‘his place’. As a tall man, he was drawn to sports over piano, but maintained a love of music and singing.

With the end of his parents’ marriage, he lived with his mother for a time in Harlem, and noted he was the only one in his gang who attended school. At the outbreak of the Second World War, and still too young to enlist, his mother sent him back to his father in Toronto.

But love intervened. Meeting Yvonne “Tody” Harrison of Hamilton, he moved there to work and to be close to her. Later he distinguished himself with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless operator and corporal. Later again, when a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, he challenged the dean’s usage of the “N” word and while concerned he would face repercussions, he did not and in the process felt empowered. In 1968, ‘Linc’ became the first black Member of Parliament in Canada. He said, “...I accept the responsibility of speaking for him (the negro) and all others in this great nation who feel that they are the subjects of discrimination because of race, creed or colour...”

It was through the ascension of Alexander as the first black lieutenant governor of Ontario in 1985 (with a focus on youth, racism and education) that I had an invitation to “Queen’s Park” and given his example, I, too, was empowered to do what I could to speak on behalf of those who are discriminated against.

I was the president of the board of directors of the Ontario Black History Society for 22 years in part due to his example of service.

I also attended the state funeral of this amazing man, and worked toward the success of Jan. 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day. Linc was a first in life and in death; he is the only African-Canadian that has a national day named in his honour.

He is Black in Toronto and now known across Canada.

---

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the ​past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on ​black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center ‘global defender for Human Rights’. She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com

BLACK IN TORONTO: Remembering the late great Lincoln Alexander, who pledged to speak for those who are discriminated against

News Jan 21, 2016 by Rosemary Sadlier Bloor West Villager

Lincoln Alexander (Jan. 21, 1922 to Oct. 19, 2012) was born in Toronto to Caribbean parents; his father taking the work that was open to most African-Canadian men at that time as a porter on the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

In Toronto he attended Earl Grey Public School where he was the only black child in his class and later Riverdale Collegiate where there were at least three other black families.

Given the isolation and discrimination of the time, he found himself needing to fight for his dignity while balancing that with knowing ‘his place’. As a tall man, he was drawn to sports over piano, but maintained a love of music and singing.

With the end of his parents’ marriage, he lived with his mother for a time in Harlem, and noted he was the only one in his gang who attended school. At the outbreak of the Second World War, and still too young to enlist, his mother sent him back to his father in Toronto.

But love intervened. Meeting Yvonne “Tody” Harrison of Hamilton, he moved there to work and to be close to her. Later he distinguished himself with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless operator and corporal. Later again, when a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, he challenged the dean’s usage of the “N” word and while concerned he would face repercussions, he did not and in the process felt empowered. In 1968, ‘Linc’ became the first black Member of Parliament in Canada. He said, “...I accept the responsibility of speaking for him (the negro) and all others in this great nation who feel that they are the subjects of discrimination because of race, creed or colour...”

It was through the ascension of Alexander as the first black lieutenant governor of Ontario in 1985 (with a focus on youth, racism and education) that I had an invitation to “Queen’s Park” and given his example, I, too, was empowered to do what I could to speak on behalf of those who are discriminated against.

I was the president of the board of directors of the Ontario Black History Society for 22 years in part due to his example of service.

I also attended the state funeral of this amazing man, and worked toward the success of Jan. 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day. Linc was a first in life and in death; he is the only African-Canadian that has a national day named in his honour.

He is Black in Toronto and now known across Canada.

---

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the ​past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on ​black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center ‘global defender for Human Rights’. She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com

BLACK IN TORONTO: Remembering the late great Lincoln Alexander, who pledged to speak for those who are discriminated against

News Jan 21, 2016 by Rosemary Sadlier Bloor West Villager

Lincoln Alexander (Jan. 21, 1922 to Oct. 19, 2012) was born in Toronto to Caribbean parents; his father taking the work that was open to most African-Canadian men at that time as a porter on the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

In Toronto he attended Earl Grey Public School where he was the only black child in his class and later Riverdale Collegiate where there were at least three other black families.

Given the isolation and discrimination of the time, he found himself needing to fight for his dignity while balancing that with knowing ‘his place’. As a tall man, he was drawn to sports over piano, but maintained a love of music and singing.

With the end of his parents’ marriage, he lived with his mother for a time in Harlem, and noted he was the only one in his gang who attended school. At the outbreak of the Second World War, and still too young to enlist, his mother sent him back to his father in Toronto.

But love intervened. Meeting Yvonne “Tody” Harrison of Hamilton, he moved there to work and to be close to her. Later he distinguished himself with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless operator and corporal. Later again, when a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, he challenged the dean’s usage of the “N” word and while concerned he would face repercussions, he did not and in the process felt empowered. In 1968, ‘Linc’ became the first black Member of Parliament in Canada. He said, “...I accept the responsibility of speaking for him (the negro) and all others in this great nation who feel that they are the subjects of discrimination because of race, creed or colour...”

It was through the ascension of Alexander as the first black lieutenant governor of Ontario in 1985 (with a focus on youth, racism and education) that I had an invitation to “Queen’s Park” and given his example, I, too, was empowered to do what I could to speak on behalf of those who are discriminated against.

I was the president of the board of directors of the Ontario Black History Society for 22 years in part due to his example of service.

I also attended the state funeral of this amazing man, and worked toward the success of Jan. 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day. Linc was a first in life and in death; he is the only African-Canadian that has a national day named in his honour.

He is Black in Toronto and now known across Canada.

---

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the ​past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on ​black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center ‘global defender for Human Rights’. She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com