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Sun, 12.15.1929

Emery Barnes, Politician born

Emery O. Barnes

*Emery Barnes was born on this date in 1929. He was a Black Canadian football player and politician.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Oregon, Barnes was an alternate hi-jumper for the 1952 US Olympic Track and Field team. He played football at the University of Oregon and received his B.S. degree in 1954.  Later that year, he was drafted by the NFL's Green Bay Packers but had much more success in the Canadian Football League with the B.C. Lions.

He played for three years, from 1962 to 1964; the team won the Grey Cup game in his final year. Barnes also received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of British Columbia. Barnes worked as a social worker before entering politics.

He was inducted into the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame (1986) and the Portland, Oregon, Interscholastic Sports Hall of Fame (1987). First elected to the British Columbia legislature in 1972 and re-elected four consecutive times, he served British Columbia until 1996.  Barnes and fellow NDP MLA Rosemary Brown were the first Black politicians elected to a legislative office in British Columbia. He was particularly concerned with social justice, human rights, and poverty.  In 1994, he was also the first Black to be elected Speaker of the Legislature in any Canadian province.

Emery Barnes died on July 1, 1998, and is buried in Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The headstone shows his full name as "Emery Oakland Barnes." Constance Barnes, a daughter of his, is an elected member of the Vancouver Park Board. The city of Vancouver has named a park after him in his memory: Emery Barnes Park at 1100 Seymour Street.

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