He was a leader in the Free South Africa Movement!
Randall Robinson was born in Richmond, Virginia, crediting his childhood experiences with racism as the spark that later propelled him into activism, NPR reports.
“The insult of segregation was searing and unforgettable. [Becoming an activist was] salvaging. We all have to die, and I preferred to have just one death. It seems to me that to suffer insult without response is to die many deaths,” Robinson said in a 2005 interview.
He earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School, practicing as a civil rights attorney in Boston before serving as a professor of human rights law at Penn State. Robinson would go on to author several books before founding TransAfrica in 1977. The Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy advocacy firm “[promoted] diversity and equity in the foreign policy arena and justice for the African world.”
During his time as president of the organization, a role he served in until 2001, Robinson lobbied against apartheid and for issues impacting those of the African diaspora. He went on a 27-day hunger strike to convince the U.S. government to reinstate the democratically elected government run by Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Robinson was also one of the leaders in the Free South Africa Movement, fighting to end apartheid and spearheading a number of campaigns “in defense of democracy and justice in Africa and the Caribbean,” as well as a leading advocate in the case for reparations for Black Americans. This past Friday, the revolutionary lawyer and activist passed away at the age of 81.
“He was an incredible father. He did a lot on behalf of people he hadn’t even met,” his daughter Khalea Ross Robinson told reporters.
Robinson left the states in 2001, settling in St. Kitts with his wife Hazel Ross-Robinson. He previously wrote about his decision to leave the U.S., finding the Caribbean a more welcoming place for Black people and considering himself a citizen of the world. Robinson passed away on the West Indies island due to aspiration pneumonia.
“I never believed my place was necessarily physically in America. I am as much a Nigerian, a Haitian, a South African, a Kittitian, a Jamaican as I am an American. There shouldn’t be these partitions between the people of the Black world. I have lived that and I have committed myself to that in everything that I’ve done throughout my life,” Robinson previously told reporters.
A homegoing service for the trailblazing activist will be held this April in St. Kitts, followed by a memorial service in Washington, D.C. this May. Rest in peace Mr. Robinson. Well done.
Cover photo: Human rights activist Randall Robinson has joined the ancestors/Photo Courtesy of Fair use image/BlackPast.org