RANDALL ROBINSON - Richard Peacock

03/22/04

By Richard Peacock

Days after the whirlwind trip he help coordinated to returned ousted Hatian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to the Caribbean, TransAfrica founder and internationally renown activist Randall Robinson was the featured speaker at an annually lecture that took place in Tampa, at the Embassy Suites hotel near the University of South Florida.

The lecture was sponsored by the Ivory Club of Tampa Bay, a small group made up of local Africans who are college professors, physicians as well as Africans in other professions. The organization also raises money for orphan African children and a scholarship given away to African students attending the University of South Florida.

During his speech, Robinson promoted black history and encouraged the predominantly black audience to become more politically aware of what is happening to blacks in Africa and the Americas. But what lingered throughout the event was Robinson’s recount of the time and he and others spent to get the Hatian President out of the Central African Republican, where Aristide went during his ouster.

The audience, which was made up of about 215 people, was particularly moved when he told of what he and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters managed to do without the Bush adminstration’s support.

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On a private plan that the U.S. help make available Aristide left Haiti on Feb. 29, as armed rebels in groups opposed to his administration were close approaching the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. He landed in the Central African Republic on March 1. On March 15, he arrived in Jamaica.

According to the Associated Press, Nigeria has since recently agreed to allow Aristide to stay there for a while. Jamaica’s involvement in all of this may have jeopardized the caribbean’s nations relations with the U.S., Robinson said when asked what kind or if any international law applies to the Aristide’s abrupt departure.

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Another spirited moment came when Robinson suggested that African-Americans need to be less insular in international affairs and less eager to support big time Democratic politicians who don’t do more to lift up black people -- former President Bill Clinton included.

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Robinson lives in St Kitts. He is the author of a number of books, including his most recent, “Quitting America: The Departure of Black Man from his native Land.� His advocated for better relations between the United States and African and Caribbean countries for decades. He created a big media stir in 1994, when he went on a hunger strike to protest the United Statess’ treatment of Haitian refugees.

Bonnie Car, one of the lecture and dinner attendees, was thrilled to be in the prescence of Robinson.

Another Tampa resident Rudy Jordan found him very enlightening, especially when it comes to national’s media coverage of Haiti.

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