Ever Consider a Career in Politics? Learn from the late and great Lincoln Alexander
Lincoln MacCauley Alexander (January 21, 1922 - October 19, 2012) - who was affectionately called "Linc" by close friends and family - even his children, was a man who was first to do so many things in his political career:
- His biggest first was in 1968, when he became the first black member of parliament (MP) - he ran as the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the Hamilton West electoral district.
- In 1979, he became the first black Canadian cabinet minister, he was minister of labour
- In 1985, he became the first black Canadian, 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario where his main focus was: education, youth and racism and youth. He served from 1985 - 1991
- In 1992, he was appointed companion of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario
- After leaving Office he became chancellor at University of Guelph - he served 5 terms, the longest serving Chancellor in their history
Many people think that in order to have a successful career in politics, one has to be wealthy. Although, it is true that campaigns can be quite costly - amongst other things, it is possible to have a career in politics without having to "come from money". Lincoln Alexander came from fairly humble beginnings. He was born in Toronto to Mae Rose a Jamaican immigrant who was a maid and Lincoln Alexander Sr. an immigrant from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who was a porter for the Canadian Railway. After his mother had a violent dispute with his father, they moved to Harlem with his older brother. He had an immense capability to connect and network with people while making a long lasting impact - I guess that's why people called him "Linc".
During the second World War he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Once the war was over he focused on his education, finished high school in Hamilton, completed his undergraduate degree at McMaster in Economics and HIstory, and graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1953. His love for education was lifelong and widely recognized he also earned honorary degrees from:
- University of Toronto, 1986
- McMaster University, 1987
- University of Western Ontario,1988
- York University, 1990
- Royal Military College of Canada, 1991
- Queen's University, 1992
In his honor, he also had several schools named after him: Lincoln Alexander Public School, in Ajax, Hamilton and Markham, Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School - Mississauga and Lincoln Alexander Hall at the University of Guelph. In November 2006 his autobiography Go to school, you're a little black boy: the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, a memoir was published. This memoir helps to illustrate how this charismatic and influential man fought to make such an impact from very early on. We have a lot of copies of the book at the library, I actually just put a hold on it for myself, you can too, if you click on the book below:
Lincoln Alexander died peacefully in his sleep on October 19, 2012 at the age of 90. He was honoured with a state funeral, where hundreds of people lined the streets and thousands attended. This is how his granddaughter who spoke at his funeral remembers him, as a man who was devoted to his family despite all his public commitments:
"You achieved more than most people could imagine, you have done so much for all of us."
- RIP Lincoln Alexander.