Howard McCurdy

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Howard McCurdy
Member of Parliament
for Windsor—Walkerville
In office
Preceded byMark MacGuigan
Succeeded byriding dissolved
Member of Parliament
for Windsor—Lake St. Clair
In office
Preceded byfirst member
Succeeded byShaughnessy Cohen
Personal details
Howard Douglas McCurdy

(1932-12-10)December 10, 1932
London, Ontario
DiedFebruary 20, 2018(2018-02-20) (aged 85)
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Political partyNew Democrat
Spouse(s)Brenda Lee
ResidenceWindsor, Ontario, Canada
Professionbiochemist, professor

Howard Douglas McCurdy, CM OOnt (December 10, 1932 – February 20, 2018) was a Canadian civil rights activist, politician and university professor.

Life and career[edit]

Born in London, Ontario, McCurdy's great-great grandfather Nasa McCurdy was an agent on the Underground Railroad by which African-American slaves escaped to Canada in the 19th century.[1][2]

He moved to Amherstburg, Ontario when he was 9 and encountered racism for the first time when he tried to join the Cub Scouts and was excluded, being told to form a Black-only troop.[2]

McCurdy studied at the University of Western Ontario, where he received a Bachelor of Arts, and later at Assumption University, where he received a Bachelor of Science. He was awarded a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in microbiology and chemistry from Michigan State University. McCurdy has also served for a time as Michigan State University's president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which he founded.[1]

In 1959, he joined the Biology Department at Assumption College (later the University of Windsor) and became the first person of African descent to hold a tenure track position in a Canadian university.[2] He was Department Head from 1974 to 1979.[1] In 1976–80 he founded and was President of the Canadian College of Microbiologists. McCurdy authored more than 50 scientific papers and served on the editorial boards of Bacteriological Reviews and the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. In 1967–68 he was president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

In 1962 he 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.[1]

McCurdy's speech at the NDP's founding convention is credited with choosing the name New Democratic Party. In 1979, he was elected alderman in the city of Windsor and served two terms[1] until he was elected as the New Democratic MP for the riding of Windsor Walkerville in the federal election of 1984, to become Canada's second Black MP, and the first Black NDP MP.[1] In the 1988 election he was reelected in the renamed riding of Windsor— St. Clair, where he served until his defeat in the 1993 federal election. He was also a candidate for the party leadership in the 1989 leadership convention which selected Audrey McLaughlin.

McCurdy campaigned for the Ontario New Democratic Party nomination in Windsor—Sandwich in the build-up to the 1995 provincial election, but was unexpectedly defeated by Arlene Rousseau. McCurdy had been endorsed by Premier Bob Rae, while Rousseau was an ally of party dissidents such as Peter Kormos.

In 2003, McCurdy supported Bill Blaikie's campaign for NDP leader.

McCurdy died on February 20, 2018 at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife, four children, and 10 grandchildren.[2][1]


McCurdy has received many awards, including the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, and in 2001 the J. S. Woodsworth Award for Human Rights.[3]

In 2012, McCurdy was made a member of the Order of Ontario.[4]

In November 2012, McCurdy was designated a Member of the Order of Canada.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Renowned Windsor civil rights activist and former MP Howard McCurdy dies". Windsor Star. February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "McCurdy named to Order of Ontario". Windsor Star. January 20, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Keith A. P. Sandiford, A Black Studies Primer: Heroes and Heroines of the African Diaspora, Hansib Publications, 2008, p. 304.
  4. ^ "27 Appointees Named To Ontario's Highest Honour". Ontario. January 20, 2012.
  5. ^ "Howard McCurdy, C.M., O.Ont., Ph.D." The Governor General of Canada. November 19, 2012.

External links[edit]