Toronto activist and scholar Christopher J. Williams receives Lincoln Alexander Award

Publication Date


Document Type

News Article


Toronto activist and scholar Christopher J. Williams receives Lincoln Alexander Award

TORONTO, February 26, 2015 – Christopher J. Williams, a Toronto-based activist and scholar specializing in issues of criminal justice and racial marginality, was presented with The Honourable Lincoln Alexander ’53 Award yesterday from the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

The BLSA created the Lincoln Alexander Award to pay tribute to the pioneering efforts of Alexander – an Osgoode graduate, first black member of Canada’s Parliament and the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario – who passed away in 2012. The inaugural Lincoln Alexander award was presented in 2013 to The Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch (LLB ‘89) of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Honourable Justice Donald McLeod of the Ontario Court of Justice received the 2014 award.

“I can’t even express how profound this honour is,” said Williams who gave a passionate speech drawing attention to police shortcomings at the award ceremony. He has also spoken at numerous universities, high schools and community forums throughout Toronto, particularly in connection with grassroots concerns about the proliferation and dissemination of non-conviction records which function as negative credentials.

Recently, Williams worked with a team of Toronto Star journalists to generate multimedia material for the widely read “Known to Police” investigative series, winner of a National Newspaper Award in 2014. An outcome of that series was the formation of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice (OSAII). Williams is an associate member of OSAII and co-coordinator of the Police Access Request Initiative, a project geared toward assisting everyday citizens with freedom of information queries.

In addition, Williams is a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, a group which encourages debate about police policy issues and is devoted to making the police more accountable to the public. He was also the designated subject matter expert for “This Issue Has Been With Us For Ages: A Community-Based Assessment of Police Contact Carding in 31 Division,” a report commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board.

Williams holds a BA from York University, an MA from Carleton University and will complete his PhD at York this year. His scholarly work addresses racial profiling and systemic racism. His writings have been published in academic journals including Race & Class and the International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory among others.

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York U’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre, York U is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York U’s 11 faculties and 27 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 288 leading universities worldwide. York U’s community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 275,000 alumni.


For further information, please contact: Virginia Corner, Communications Manager, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, 416-736-5820, vcorner@osgoode.yorku.ca.