Hundreds Pay Respects To Local Civil Rights Activist

Hundreds made their way out to pay their respects to former MP, University of Windsor professor and local civil rights activist Howard McCurdy Saturday.

McCurdy died Feb. 20 at the age of 85. His daughter Leslie McCurdy spoke to AM800 News before a public showing at Families First Funeral Home on Dougall Ave.

She says seeing so many people come forward to honour her father is humbling.

"My dad was just our dad," McCurdy says. "We knew peripherally the things he did and we saw some of the honours and awards and accolades that were bestowed upon him, but it's really not until this point that we really see the totality of the contributions and impact he made in our community and in Canada."

She says her father's legacy is already a part of the fabric of Canada, and she hopes it continues.

"In terms of trying to become a more equitable and welcoming community, and respectful of the diversity and the difference of people," says McCurdy. "Recognizing that sometimes it's better to be a tossed salad than a melting pot, I think my father helped to set us along that path."

Whether it was preparing her and her siblings for athletics, or helping them get ready for a test, McCurdy says her dad showed the same dedication as he did in every facet of his life.

"I think my dad lived like five lives in one. In other words, it's really gratifying and comforting to know the stock that we come from," she says.

In 1962 McCurdy founded the Guardian Club, a civil rights organization to fight racial discrimination in Windsor. 

In 1969 he was a founder and the first President of the National Black Coalition of Canada.

In 1980, he was elected alderman for the City of Windsor and then became and NDP MP for the riding of Windsor-Walkerville.

He was Canada's second black MP and was also made a member of the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada.