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Walter Rodney (1942 –1980)

Walter Anthony Rodney (23 March 1942 – 13 June 1980) was a Guyanese historian, political activist and academic. Rodney taught at the University of Dar es Salaam from 1968 to 1974.  His notable works include: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, The Groundings with My Brothers,  The Russian Revolution,  A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1981-1905, and Decolonial Marxism. Rodney was assassinated in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1980.

Walter Rodney Timeline

1942 -March 23 Born in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana); the second of six children of Percival Edward and Pauline Worrell Rodney.
1953-1960- Won scholarship to and graduated from Queen's College, the prestigious secondary school in Georgetown, Guyana.
1960-1963- Attended the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica) on academic scholarships; received a Bachelor of Arts degree with first-class honors.
1963-1966- Attended the School of Oriental and Africana Studies at the University of London on academic scholarship. Received a doctorate in African History; dissertation entitled:  A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800.
1965- January 2- Married Patricia Henry of Guyana; to this union three children were born: a son, Shaka, and two daughters, Kanini and Asha.
1966-1968- Lectured in History at University College, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, his first teaching appointment.
1967-  Published West Africa and the Atlantic Slave-Trade East African Publishing House.
1968- Taught History at his alma mater, The University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica); also gave lectures on African History and Black Power in economically depressed areas of Kingston.
1968- October Government of Jamaica banned Walter Rodney from re-entering the country after a trip to attend the Congress of Black Writers in Montreal, Canada. The ban led to several days of protest and rioting in Jamaica.
1969-1974 Served as Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor of History at the University of Dar es Salaam.
1969- Published The Groundings with My Brothers (Bogle L'Ouverture Publications), a collection of the talks Rodney gave in and about Jamaica in 1968.
1970- Published his dissertation, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, England).
1972- February-June Served as Visiting Professor at the Center for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich), while on leave from the University of Dar es Salaam.
1974- Invited to serve as professor of African History at the University of Guyana. Job offer revoked by the Guyanese government.
1974-1980 Resided in Guyana doing research, writing, lecturing to the community and abroad. Served in the leadership of the Working Peoples Alliance> (WPA), a political group that evolved into a political party and opposed the Guyanese government led by Forbes Burnham.
1974- July-September Participated and lectures in the Summer Research Symposium of the Institute of the Black World (IBW) in Atlanta, Georgia.
1975- January-May  Taught for a semester in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University and completed research and writing on the Tanzanian economy.
1975 April 30-May 1  IBW roundtable discussion with Rodney in Amherst, Mass.; later resulted in the posthumous publication of Walter Rodney Speaks: The Making of an African Intellectual (Africa World Press, 1990).
1976- Published World War II and the Tanzanian Economy (Cornell University Africana Studies and Research Monograph Series, no. 3).
1979- July 11 Rodney and seven others were arrested and accused  of setting fire to two government buildings in Guyana.
1979- Published Guyanese Sugar Plantations in the Late Nineteenth Century (Release Publishers: Georgetown, Guyana).
1980- June 13 Assassinated in a car bombing in Georgetown, Guyana.
1980- June 23 Buried in Georgetown, Guyana. Over 35,000 people took part in the funeral procession.
1981- Published posthumously, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905 (Johns Hopkins University Press).


Walter Rodney

Walter Rodney speaks at Yale University, 1972. Photo © Jim Alexander.