April 2, 2013

ILWU activist Leo Robinson, 1937-2013

From Michael Munk:

On March 23, the South African Ambassador to the United States Ebrahim Rassol spoke at a ILWU Local 10 meeting in San Francisco honoring the life of activist member Leo Robinson, who died January 14, and his local for their militant labor actions in opposition to apartheid. Introduced by Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas, Ambassador Rassol presented the Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award to the wife of Leo Robinson and Local 10.
Watch the video at http://youtu.be/M4Wu5AYWCHs

Another Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org,  “Leo Robinson: A Life In Struggle” is at http://youtu.be/l6WWtdMjy8A
There’s also a detailed obit of Leo Robinson in the ILWU Dispatcher at http://www.ilwu.org/?p=4395

At the 1994 Longshore Caucus, the minutes of the African American Longshore Coalition (AALC) quotes Brother Leo Robinson, retired Local 10 member and a founder of the AALC, speaking regarding the pervasive discrimination in the Pacific Northwest. Evidently referring to Local 8’s fight with 23 black longshoremen before the Federal District Court in 1968, the legal costs of which Local 8 asked the International to pay, Robinson said
“I wrote a very simple resolution that has in the history its genesis that goes back some years when Local 10 refused to pay part of the lawsuit that Local 8 had lost which was a discrimination case. It is the position that I take now…that as a person of color, that [the ILWU] founded on the principles of democracy and fairness for all should not have to bear the burden of those who choose to step outside of that framework for asserting some illusionary superiority over their fellow workers, and then when they’re taken to task for that, they turn around and say to me, ‘I want you to pay for my privilege’. The brothers and sisters of this union, whether they be of color or of the majority population of this society, have one thing in common, a threat to one from our enemy which is a class enemy, is a threat to us all and we will respond accordingly.”

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