Randall Robinson, a human rights activist and lawyer identified for his advocacy in opposition to South African apartheid and for Haitian democracy, died Friday at age 81. He died in St. Kitts, the Caribbean island the place he spent the final 20 years of his life, of aspiration pneumonia.
“He was an incredible father,” mentioned Khalea Ross Robinson, his daughter, who confirmed his loss of life to NPR on Sunday. “He did a lot on behalf of people he hadn’t even met.”
Robinson was one of many leaders of the Free South Africa Movement, which started within the Nineteen Eighties and pushed to finish apartheid. He “led a range of foreign policy campaigns in his life-long advocacy in defense of democracy and justice in Africa and the Caribbean,” a press launch from Robinson’s household says.
Robinson based the Washington, D.C.-based overseas coverage advocacy group TransAfrica in 1977 to advertise “diversity and equity in the foreign policy arena and justice for the African World” together with the African diaspora, according to the group’s mission statement. He served because the president of the group till 2001.
During his time at TransAfrica, he organized a sit-in on the South African embassy to foyer in opposition to apartheid and went on a 27-day starvation strike to stress the U.S. authorities to reinstate the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, amongst many different actions. He was additionally a leading voice advocating for reparations for Black Americans.
He was born in Richmond, Va., in 1941, and attributed his activism later in life to his experiences of segregation.
“The insult of segregation was searing and unforgettable,” he mentioned in a 2005 interview with The Progressive Magazine. He mentioned becoming a member of the social justice motion 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.”
Before founding TransAfrica and changing into identified for his political activism, he earned a J.D. at Harvard Law School and labored as a civil rights legal professional in Boston. He served as a professor of human rights regulation at Penn State University and wrote a number of books.
In 2001, Robinson left the United States to settle in St. Kitts within the Caribbean, together with his spouse, Hazel Ross-Robinson. In one of his books, he explains that he left the U.S. for a spot that he thought-about extra peaceable and hospitable to Black folks.
“I never believed my place was necessarily physically in America,” he informed NPR in 2004. “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.”
A funeral service might be held in St. Kitts in April, and a memorial service might be held in Washington, D.C., in May, based on the household.