CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Jan. 6, 2010: The spotlight will be shown on late Guyanese academian Walter Anthony Rodney in New York City in Black History Month.
Director Clairmont M. Chung presents her film tilted, `W.A.R. Stories: Walter Anthony Rodney` on Monday, February 8 from 7:30 p.m. at the The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, between Bank & Bethune Streets, in New York City.
The 90 minute film will look at the life of the noted activist from birth during World War II, through the cold war, his contributions to political thought and to his shocking assassination at age 38 in Georgetown, Guyana.
Chung will also be available to discuss the film after the screening.
Born to a working class family, Rodney attended Queen`s College in Guyana before securing a scholarship to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He graduated in 1963 and went on to earn his PhD in 1966 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England.
His dissertation focused on the slave trade on the upper Guinea coast. The paper was published in 1970 under the name, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800 and it was widely acclaimed for its originality in challenging the conventional wisdom on the area.
Rodney traveled widely and became very well known around the world as an activist and scholar. He taught for a time in Tanzania after graduating, and later in Jamaica at his alma mater – UWI Mona.
He was sharply critical of the middle class for its role in the post-independence Caribbean. He was also a critic of capitalism and argued for a socialist development template. When the Jamaican government, led by prime minister Hugh Shearer, banned him, in October 1968, from ever returning to the country, because of his advocacy for the working poor in that country, riots broke out, eventually claiming the lives of several people and causing millions of dollars in damages.
These riots, which started on October 16, 1968, are now known as the Rodney Riots, and they triggered an increase in political awareness across the Caribbean, especially among the Afrocentric Rastafarian sector of Jamaica, documented in his book, The groundings with my brothers.`
Rodney became a prominent Pan-Africanist, and was important in the Black Power movement in the Caribbean and North America. While living in Dar es Salaam he was influential in developing a new centre of African learning and discussion.
In 1974 Rodney returned to Guyana from Tanzania. He was supposed to take a position as a professor at the University of Guyana but the government prevented his appointment. He became increasingly active in politics, forming the Working People`s Alliance, against the PNC government. In 1979 he was arrested and charged with arson after two government offices were burned.
In 1980, Rodney was killed by a bomb in his car while running for office in Guyanese elections. Rodney was survived by his wife, Pat, and three children. Walter`s brother, Donald, who was injured in the explosion, said that a sergeant in the Guyana Defence Force named Gregory Smith had given Rodney the bomb that killed him. Smith fled to French Guiana after the killing, where he died in 2002.