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Matthew Green breaks the long tradition of an all-white city council

By Evelyn Myrie

It’s been more than 40 years since Hamilton elected a non-white person to represent them at any level — locally, provincially or nationally. But on Oct. 27, that all changed. Matthew Green, a young African Canadian man, was elected to Hamilton city council representing Ward 3 — breaking the long-held tradition of an all-white city council.

The late Honourable Lincoln Alexander was the first African Canadian to break the colour barrier in federal politics. The year was 1968 and there were no other blacks running for office. But Alexander, who would later become known as Hamilton’s favourite son, “picked up the ball and ran with it.” He ran for the Conservative party and made history when he won and soon became the first African Canadian to represent Hamilton in any political leadership role. Alexander held the seat until 1980 when he stepped down and became chair of the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Board and later made history again when he was appointed in 1985 as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the first African Canadian to serve in this important role.

It’s worth noting that Sandi Bell, an African Canadian woman was elected to the Hamilton public school board in 1975.

Forty-six years after Lincoln Alexander was first elected, history is once again being made as Matthew Green is sworn into office next week, taking his rightful place at the city’s decision-making table. He will become the first elected black councillor in the city’s 168-year history.

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Article and image source: Hamilton Spectator

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