Black History Month: Lincoln Alexander Day

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I rise today during Black History Month to recognize Lincoln Alexander Day, albeit a little late.

Last month, the Dalhousie School of Social Work hosted a Lincoln Alexander event, where they invited me to present the findings of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights report Anti-Black Racism, Sexism and Systemic Discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Commission. A panel of social work students discussed the report, which was followed by a conversation prompted by critical questions asked by students.

The evening opened with the following spoken-word tribute by one of the students. It is my pleasure to share that with you today. It is called “A Legacy Resounds” by Erika Downey Campbell:

In the crucible of courage, where injustice meets the fire of resolve, There stood Lincoln Alexander, a titan in the struggle to evolve. With confidence as his compass, he sailed uncharted seas, Championing racial equity with the wind of determination in his pleas.

In the Royal Canadian Air Force, a wireless operator he became, Yet, in Vancouver’s bars, a bitter chord struck in racism’s name. Refused service for the color of his skin, he faced the cruel song, But in his heart, the melody of perseverance was strong.

A symphony of humility, in an honorable discharge, he found, As he quit the Air Force, on justice’s battleground. “Turned a blind eye,” he said of those who couldn’t see, The need to shatter discrimination’s discordant decree. Through corridors of power, where privilege built its gate, He challenged, with resilience, the discriminatory fate. A face of Black empowerment in a changing nation’s tide, He advocated for education, inclusion, dignity side by side. “Determination fueled by education,” he passionately declared, A path to limitless possibilities, the legacy he shared.

From schoolyard battles to the dean’s racial slur, His anti-racism work, a lifelong concerto of courage. In the jazz of his life, where hard work harmonized, Lincoln Alexander’s melody, a beacon that still guides. An anthem of equality, a symphony for the free, His legacy resounds in the chorus of opportunity.


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