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Randall Robinson named keynote speaker for 2002 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Randall Robinson named keynote speaker for 2002 Martin Luther King Jr. CelebrationOctober 13, 2001SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Internationally respected human rights advocate Randall Robinson, founder of TransAfrica, will be the keynote speaker for the University’s 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, “The Dream and the Debt,” Jan. 19, 2002 in the Carrier Dome.
The event, which is expected to draw more than 2,000 people, is among the largest university-sponsored MLK celebration events in the nation, and is open to the University and Central New York communities.
Doors will open at 5 p.m.; dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m.; and the program, which will include music, dramatic presentations and Robinson’s keynote address, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the dinner portion of the celebration are $20 and are available by calling Hendricks Chapel at 443-5044. Dinner tickets generally sell out early, so those interested in attending the dinner should plan accordingly. The program is free and open to the public.
Robinson founded the Washington, D.C.-based TransAfrica in 1977. The organization is dedicated to promoting progressive U.S. foreign policy positions towards Africa and the Caribbean. He continues to lead TransAfrica and its sister organization TransAfrica Forum, which was established in 1981 to provide educational programs about the two regions for print, radio and television media.
TransAfrica has taken on some of the most pressing crises in Africa and the Caribbean. During the 1980s, the lobby spearheaded the campaign to have the U.S. government impose sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The campaign, which included civil disobedience and more conventional lobbying tactics, ended successfully when the U.S. Congress passed the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 over a veto by former President Ronald Reagan.
During the 1991 to 1994 military regime in Haiti, TransAfrica lobbied on behalf of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Robinson pushed for stronger U.S. support for Aristide’s return, as well as for an end to the forced repatriation of Haitian refugees fleeing military rule. He is credited with helping prompt a major shift in U.S. policy as a result of his 27-day hunger strike to protest the treatment of refugees.
Robinson is an advocate for debt relief for the world’s poor countries, has discussed American-Cuban relations with Fidel Castro and a group of African American leaders, and works to alert Americans to the cause and implications of the nation’s burgeoning prison industrial complex.
He is the author of several books, including “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks” (Dutton/Plume, 1999) and “Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America” (Penguin, 1998). Robinson received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.