TORONTO - The first black member of Ontario's legislature has died at the age of 88.

Leonard Braithwaite, who died late last month, represented the Toronto area Etobicoke riding from 1963 to 1975 as a Liberal.

During the Second World War, Braithwaite served as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force with the 6th Bomber Group.

Braithwaite graduated from the University of Toronto in 1950, Harvard University in 1952, and Osgoode Hall Law School in 1958. He received the Order of Canada in 1997 and Order of Ontario in 2005.

Braithwaite spoke out against racial segregation in Ontario schools, and called for the admission of female pages in the legislature.

Premier Dalton McGuinty says Braithwaite's determination to see Ontario do what was just helped make the province "open, diverse and caring."

"We have lost a trailblazer, a champion and a friend -- but he leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the strong, diverse province he helped build," McGuinty said Thursday.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Braithwaite's life and many achievements deserve to be celebrated.

Braithwaite was a pioneer as a lawyer and as a lawmaker, and "brought dignity and nobility to public office," Horwath said.