Author Ta-Nahisi Coates and Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) are expected to headline a fundraiser for St. Vincent born journalist Don Rojas who is ailing and beloved by an extended New York community.
The pair along with a long list of illustrious luminaries readily committed to paying tribute to the dedicated multi-descriptive St. Vincent born Caribbean national on May 11 in Brooklyn.
Among them Inez and Charles Barron, city and state legislators, Dr. Ron Daniels, Herb Boyd, author and educator, Revs. Herbert and Karen Daughtry and an even longer list of intellectuals, progressives, associates and Caribbean colleagues.
As a matter of fact, many agreed that they would travel from Brooklyn to Baltimore, any of the five boroughs and even to the Caribbean, Europe or Africa to deliver personal testimony of the reputation of the acclaimed Pan-Caribbean, Vincentian, revolutionary, journalist, activist, advocate, innovator, intellectual immigrant who migrated to the United States and is making a significant imprint on the entire community.
According to Boyd, “Rojas has been a revolutionary freedom fighter for justice and equality.”
The Harlem-focussed documenter of African American history said he is compelled to leave his comfort zone of Harlem to travel to the county of Kings because throughout his career Rojas included him as a travel partner on trips of discovery.
While Rojas is deserving of a tribute at any juncture, the principal reason for next month’s assembly is to raise funds to ensure “that spirit remains undaunted as he wages a battle against multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of bone cancer.”
Boyd explained that “his treatment includes chemotherapy, infusions of steroids and bone marrow transplants.”
He explained that “not only is the treatment debilitating, but the cost is also taking a financial toll on him and his family.”
To that end a tribute committee mobilized and has been actively engaged in raising funds.
This fund-raising benefit will feature poetry by Tali Kweli an ensemble led by Ahmed Abdullah and guest speakers to help defray Rojas’s “increasingly large expenses.”
The fact a knight has signed on to testify is no small investment.
Sir Beckles, who in addition to being tasked with UWI activities, is also chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Commission.
Fifteen countries comprise full membership in CARICOM, five associates and eight observer nations, encompassing 38 dialects and languages in the region. However, in response to this urgent health emergency Sir Beckles is invested.
Part of the reason is that Rojas served as communications advisor and helped design and launch the UWIs TV network. Another is that Rojas is deserving of a testimonial.
Slated to be held at the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, the event is expected to add to the historic legacy the church has established.
Located at Atlantic Ave. the address marks the place of worship that invited Kwame Toure aka Stokely Carmichael on a visit from Guinea, South African freedom fighter Winnie Mandela, the mothers of slain children from Atlanta, bereaved families on the anniversary of the Howard Beach racial attack and murder and for celebration of Olympians who raised gloved, black fists in defiance of US hypocrisy while standing on the winning podium.
That the pastor of the church, Rev. Daughtry would lend his sanctuary to this cause is no surprise. As leader of the Black United Front (BUF) whose mantra was Forward Together, Backward Never,” he showed solidarity with the goals of the New Jewel Movement and the then PRG Grenadian government’s promise of “Forward Ever, Backward Never.”
Endorsed by Rojas, the then press secretary of Grenada’s Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, together they shared the same purposeful mission of advancing the lot of people of color.
“I will always remember his unequivocal dedication to the liberation struggle as a member of the Black United Front,” Rev. Daughtry said. “It was during this period that his communications skills were indispensable.”
In addition to the afternoon event, a one-day special offering to contributors to the cause promises the sale of Black classic books as a means to contribute to the Don Rojas Medical Fund Campaign.
On May 10, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. with purchase of books by Black authors, funds will benefit the campaign. Proceeds from the sale of any books in its online catalog will add to the purpose. First log onto www.Black
Samples on the site include titles by Walter Mosley, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef Ben-Jochannan as well as reissued works by Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edward Blyden, Bobby Seale, J.A. Rogers, and others.
Throughout Rojas’s storied career, he has also served as director of communications for the NAACP, executive editor of the New York Amsterdam News, consultant to the National Council of Churches, director of communications and international relations for the Institute of the Black world, 21st Century and the founder of the online web portal The Black World Today (TBWT) a pre-millenium audio visual web portal dedicated to providing cultural and political information.
The Brooklyn event on May 11 begins at 4 pm and is open to the public at the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, 415 Atlantic Ave. at Bond St.
For additional information, call 718-596-1991.
Catch You On The Inside!