February is Black History Month throughout Canada. To mark the month, the RCAF is publishing articles about Black Canadians who, during or after their career in the RCAF, have achieved great things for Canada.
Here is the story of Lincoln Alexander.
“The air force experience taught me the value of self-respect, discipline, and confidence, and those are elements that have served me well throughout my life. They apply to all areas, whether the air force, the law, or politics,” said Lincoln Alexander in his 2006 memoir Go to School, You’re a Little Black Boy.
Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first Black person elected to the House of Commons, first Black federal cabinet minister, and first Black person to serve as lieutenant governor of Ontario, died October 19, 2012, at the age of 90.
He was born in Toronto, Ontario, on January 21, 1922. His father, Lincoln MacCauley Alexander Sr., was from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and his mother, Mae Rose Royale, was from Jamaica. Job options for Blacks were limited in those days so his father, who was a carpenter, worked as a railway porter; his mother worked as a maid. Mr. Alexander’s first job was in a laundry in Harlem, New York, where his mother had moved after she left her husband in the 1930s.
In 1942, Mr. Alexander joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. “None of the three services – army, navy and air force – were interested in having Blacks,” he said. “I opted for the air force. Besides, I thought I looked…