A Letter from the Chair
It has been over 30 years since the assassination of my late husband, Walter Anthony Rodney, activist, scholar and educator, whose selfless commitment to the struggles for the liberation of working people in Guyana and other parts of the African Diaspora continue to be honored today. He was killed at the age of 38 in the midst of leading a successful organizing campaign by the Working Peoples Alliance in which Guyanese working class people were beginning to understand that while they had different racial origins, they had much more in common in their histories of exploitation and in their need to create change. He called for a new kind of politics based on the grassroots, or the “street force” as he used to call it.
Recognized as one of the Caribbean’s most brilliant minds, Walter’s scholarly works and political activism engendered a new political consciousness. His Ph.D. thesis, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast illustrated his duality as an intellectual and activist as he challenged prevailing assumptions about African history and put forth his own ideas and models for analyzing the history of oppressed peoples. According to Dr. Horace Campbell (activist, scholar, author, educator), “This work was path-breaking in the way in which it analyzed the impact of slavery on the communities and the interrelationship between societies of the region and on the ecology of the region.” Walter’s seminal work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, provided a new construct for development theory and established a framework for analyzing current global socio-economic and political issues. Another ground-breaking work, this book was among the first to bring a different perspective to the question of underdevelopment in Africa. Rodney’s analysis went far beyond the heretofore accepted approach in the study of Third World underdevelopment. Dr. Pierre-Michel Fontaine (UN Commission on Human Rights),called the book “a major contribution not only to African historical scholarship but also to the ideological arsenal of the struggle for African liberation.” These and others of Walter’s published works have become “must-reads” for students and activists around the world.
In 2006, I and my three children—Shaka, Kanini and Asha— established the Walter Rodney Foundation to continue his commitment to a more equitable society and to the education of the next generations. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, is enabling us to share Walter’s life and work with students, scholars and community activists around the world. I am writing this letter on behalf of the Rodney family and the Board of Directors of the Walter Rodney Foundation to ask for your financial support.
The Foundation promotes awareness of the Walter Rodney Papers housed at the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center. The papers are the largest and most comprehensive collection of writings, speeches, correspondence, photographs, audiotapes, and documents created by or about Walter Rodney anywhere in the world. The Foundation also maintains this website, www.walterrodneyfoundation.org, which includes a bibliography of books, papers, journals and articles written by and about Walter Rodney. Financial support to the Foundation would enable it to digitize and preserve the audiotapes of Walter giving lectures and speaking and provide travel grants to students and scholars to research and study the Walter Rodney Papers. Also funding will enable research to prepare a more comprehensive and accurate bibliography reflecting the breadth of Walter’s writings and teachings.
Another focus of the Foundation is the Annual Walter Rodney Symposium, which not only reveals the continuing relevance of Walter’s life and work but also provides an opportunity for students and young activists to discuss the struggles and issues of their generation. The Annual Symposium is held in March of each year, to coincide with Walter’s birthday, at the Atlanta University Center Robert W Woodruff Library.
As well, the Foundation supports community-based programs that are run by marginalized populations, especially women and youth, who have defined their needs and developed their own solutions to addressing them. For example, the Foundation has provided modest funds to the Children Helpers Foundation, Cape Coast, Ghana West Africa and Dinkwa Women’s Development Organization, Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa. The Foundation also has provided financial support to students from St. Stephen’s Primary School who successfully passed the Common Entrance to attend Queen’s College secondary school both of which Walter attended and excelled.
To carry out these and other programs, we need your help. Whether you can contribute $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $1, your generosity will be greatly appreciated and will help us to continue to ensure that Walter Rodney’s legacy moves forward in the 21st century. Please visit our donations page to make your contribution.
If you have questions please not hesitate to contact the Foundation. Thank you in advance for your support.
President and Chair, WRF