Howard McCurdy, the second African-Canadian Canadian MP, dies at 85


Howard McCurdy died peacefully Tuesday night in the arms of his wife, Brenda Lee, leaving behind a trail of perseverance and brilliance that he wove into triumph.

He was 85.

Douglas Howard McCurdy Jr. was the second African-Canadian to be elected to the Canadian Parliament.

He was also a noted scientist, university professor, civil rights leader and, for many, an inspiration,.

“He gave me reason to believe if you believe in something and want it bad enough, no matter how many times you got knocked down, as long as you got back up you could do it,” Windsor-Tecumsek MPP Percy Hatfield said in a tribute to McCurdy at the Ontario legislature on Wednesday.

Howard McCurdy, right, is shown in a photo on the Facebook page of his daughter Leslie McCurdy, left. The well-known activist and Windsor MP died on Feb. 20 at age 85. (Leslie McCurdy/Facebook)

“He told me stories of the racism he faced, but it gave him the determination to prove those people wrong and that he was right. He’s been such a good role model for people of colour.

“He stood as a strong leader for equality and equity and never backed down from that. He knew racism first-hand and he fought it every step of the way.”

McCurdy’s accolades were many, including the Canadian Centennial Medal, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.

“He was a brilliant man,” his daughter Leslie McCurdy told the Windsor Star.

“He could be demanding–but he didn’t demand half as much from anyone else than he demanded from himself. He could be very intense. Very committed.”

Born in London in 1932, McCurdy came to Canada with his family and the age of nine.

Studies at the University of Western Ontario and Assumption University led to a doctorate in microbiology and chemistry at Michigan State University.

In 1959, he joined the University of Windsor’s science department, where he became the first African-Canadian tenured university faculty member.

From 1974 to 1979, he headed the department.

During his academic career he published more than 50 scientific papers and held positions with several scientific associations and editorial boards.

While a professor he became involved in civil rights, co-founding the Guardian Club, a organization dedicated to fighting racial discrimination in Windsor and in 1969, he helped found the National Black Coalition of Canada, serving as its first president.

Following a stint on Windsor’s City Council, McCurdy entered federal politics as the New Democratic Party candidate in the riding of Windsor-Walkerville in 1984 and won, becoming the party’s African-Canadian MP.

He served until 1993.

His election came 16 years after Progressive-Conservative Lincoln Alexander became the first African-Canadian to win a seat.

After retiring from politics, McCurdy devoted his life to his family.

“I don’t think there was a competition that he missed,” Leslie McCurdy told the Windsor Star.

“Track meets, gymnastics. He made it to all our stuff. He coached us.”

Howard McCurdy, Lincoln Alexander, Guardian Club, National Black Coalition of Canada

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in International, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.