There's nothing like a hometown hero to show our kids that anything is possible.
Students across the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board are reminded of that message as schools across the city celebrate Lincoln Alexander Day on February 11, 2008.
"Last year we declared the second Monday of every February to be Lincoln Alexander Day to honour the accomplishments of a great man who overcame many obstacles to serve the interests of Hamilton and his community through his many years of public service," said Director of Education Chris Spence.
"As we pay tribute this year, we will certainly reflect on what it means to never give up."
The 24th Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and the first Black member of Canadian Parliament, The Honourable Lincoln MacCauley Alexander personifies true determination and grit.
From humble beginnings in 1920s Toronto and later Harlem, New York, Alexander defied the social constraints a young Black man faced in that time by emulating the positive role models he sought out in his youth.
"I just made up my mind that I was as good as anyone if not better. I won't run away from the fact that I'm Black and be weak because I'm Black. I just assumed the rights and obligations belonged to me, and it was up to me to take advantage of them – knowing the road would be rough," he once told African Canadian Online.
Spence hopes Alexander will serve as a similar example for Hamilton students.
"Lincoln Alexander's strong belief in the power of education and the issues of children and youth make him a significant role model for our students – one that transcends borders created by race, religion and politics," he said.
The 85-year-old Alexander has had a storied life and a remarkable career. After serving with the Canadian Forces as a wireless operator in western Canada during World War II, Alexander used his veteran's benefits to pursue higher education, first at McMaster University and then finishing a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School. Though he continued to face racial prejudice, he persevered as a young lawyer and eventually became a partner in the first multi-racial law firm in Hamilton.
Alexander became Canada's first Black Member of Parliament in 1968, representing Hamilton West, and was the first Black Cabinet Minister (Labour) in 1979-80. He retired from politics to become the Chair of the Ontario Workmen's Compensation Board in 1980 and was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario in 1985.
In 2006, he published a memoir entitled "Go to School, You're a Black Boy," taken from a memory of what his mother would say to him as a child. Today, he continues to live in Hamilton and still accepts many speaking engagements. He says he particularly enjoys addressing school children, encouraging them to pursue education and follow their dreams.
"Honouring Mr. Alexander within the context of Black History Month, we are reinforcing for our students the positive contribution that Black Canadians have made to make this nation the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous country we live in," said Spence.
Schools will honour Linc every year
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