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Walter Rodney Papers 1960-1987
20 linear feet
Walter Rodney (1942-1980), Pan-Africanist historian and educator, was a highly respected intellectual who personified the “scholar-activist.” Rodney is widely known for his seminal work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, first published in 1972. It has been translated into Portuguese, German, and Japanese, and is used as a text in numerous colleges and universities in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
A native of Guyana, Rodney excelled academically in his early education. He graduated with honors earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and a doctorate degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England. He began his teaching career at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and later taught at University of West Indies. His radical Marxist philosophy and political activism put him in direct conflict with government officials, in both Jamaica and Guyana. Upon returning from a conference in Canada in 1968, Rodney was denied re-entry to Jamaica. This action incited student demonstrations that led to the closing of the university for two weeks. Unrest spread to the community and resulted in riots in Kingston and forced extensive debate in the Jamaican Parliament.
Dr. Rodney moved back to Tanzania and taught there until 1974. He was offered a position as chair of the history department at the University of Guyana; that was subsequently rescinded by the government. Undaunted, Rodney continued his work – speaking at public meetings, organizing workers and the community, researching and writing, and lecturing in the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. He was in the leadership of the Working Peoples’ Alliance a political party that challenged the legitimacy of the reigning government. On June 13, 1980, at age 38, Dr. Walter Rodney was assassinated, in a car bombing in Georgetown, Guyana. Over 30,000 people took part in his funeral procession.
The Walter Rodney Papers span the years 1960 – 1987 and provide insight into Rodney’s life as a scholar and an activist. The papers include correspondence, speeches, published and unpublished writings, teaching materials, audio tapes of speeches, lectures, and interviews, and a few photographs.