Brother Don Rojas with Danny Glover.
Journalists don’t like being the story themselves but in the case of brother Don Rojas, he has no choice.
The brother is fighting cancer and he needs all our support.
His friends and other progressives who’ve followed his work know the many years of sacrifices Rojas has made in Speaking Truth To Power. It’s sometimes a lonely world especially when corporate outlets are able to saturate media space and distort public perception. As Malcolm X once said, during his Oxford Union debate corporate media can turn an angelic person into a devil and and a devil into an angel.
We see today the demonization of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro, to set the ground work for U.S. military intervention. This was exactly what corporate media did in Libya; demonizing Muammar al-Quathafi to pave the way for NATO’s destruction of the country. The hope was to control Libya’s vast oil wealth; instead today anarchy prevails in Libya and no one has access to the oil coveted by the West.
Today the U.S. sheds crocodile tears about the rule of law, democracy, and the impoverishment of Venezuelans. Maduro’s mismanagement of the economy is reportedly the sole reason for the crisis. No mention is made of the debilitating U.S. sanctions.
Of course the Trump administration doesn’t care for Venezuelans. It’s doubtful Trump even knows where the country’s located. The U.S. covets Venezuela’s oil wealth; it’s the world’s number one country in terms of proven reserves.
If the U.S. cared about people suffering in Venezuela wouldn’t it care about hundreds of thousands of people in Yemen as well? Wouldn’t it have compelled its puppet regime in Saudi Arabia to halt its genocidal war on Yemen? If it cared about human lives wouldn’t it have ordered the Saudis to stop the embargo that’s caused famine in Yemen? If it cared about the rule of law would’t it have broken relations with the Saudi oil-dictatorship after the murder of journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi?
These are the kind of questions a healthy brother Don Rojas would be posing today.
His resume, as his friends know includes working as Editor in Chief of The Free West Indian, Grenada’s national newspaper. He was Prime Minister Maurice Bishop’s press secretary from 1981 to 1983, until a Bishop power-sharing dispute led to fighting and the legendary prime minister’s assassination. After U.S. Marines invaded Grenada in 1983, Don Rojas was deported by the U.S. military to Barbados.
Brother Rojas worked for the International Organization of Journalists. He came back to the U.S. in the 1990s and was General Manager of Pacifica Radio station WBAI in New York from late 2002 to May 2005. In the early 1990s, he was an editor at the New York Amsterdam News, the venerable Black-owned newspaper based in Harlem. In 2006 brother Rojas was a press officer for Oxfam America.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, in 2007, Rojas worked for the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, an organization that awarded money to nonprofit organizations assisting the state’s victims of katrina. Brother Rojas then was Executive Director of Free Speech TV in 2014.
Over the past several years brother Rojas has been the communications director for the Institute of the Black World 21st Century. He’s helped IBW21 founder and president Prof. Ron Daniels organize the quarterly meetings of the Pan-African Unity Dialogue (PAUD) which convenes a gathering in New York City of African-American, Caribbean, South American, and African organizations.
I got to know brother Rojas better when I traveled with him as part of a fact-finding team of Black journalists that went to the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, that’s home to hundreds of thousands of people violently ejected from their homes from the Saharawi Republic, the former Spanish Sahara, when Morocco invaded and occupied the country. Our team was able to interview the Saharawis and report on their plight when we came back. Others who joined us on that trip included: Demetria Irwin, a freelance journalist; Patrick Delices, a freelance writer and former researcher for the late Prof. Manning Marable; and, Richard Muhammad, editor of The Final Call.
Brother Rojas has been one of the key organizers with Prof. Daniels and other leaders of a series of conferences that have built the momentum for reparations and the growing movement in the U.S. and in the African Diaspora. He took a leave of over a year from his U.S. duties to work with Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies and a leading voice in the Reparations movement as chair of the CARICOM Reparations Committee. Rojas helped him build up the university’s communications network including its television.
Since his return to the U.S. brother Rojas has rolled up his sleeves, working with Prof. Daniels to organize the PAUD gatherings. The keynote speaker at one recent meeting was the African Union’s representative to Washington, D.C., Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao. Her presentation was one of the most electrifying: she called for mobilization of resources to create a Pan-African bank that would invest in lucrative and profitable projects throughout Africa and in the African Diaspora. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s presentation was so effective that some people in the audience wanted to know where to deposit their money.
Yes, this is only part of the journalism, activism and empowerment of African and African Diaspora communities that our tireless brother Don Rojas has been and is involved in.
Now he’s in a serious fight for his life. While treating brother Rojas for chronic back ailment, doctors conducted more tests. The news wasn’t good; he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. He’s been on chemotherapy treatment and will eventually get infusion of steroids and then bone marrow transplants.
His spirit was high when I spoke to him recently. “These things happen,” he told me. “I plan to win this fight.”
I must admit that his serenity and determination made our conversation easier. The brother actually uplifted my spirit as well.
There’s much progressive activism that’s needed today in the era of Donald Trump, national racism and xenophobia, Global imperialism in Africa and as we are witnessing closer to home in Venezuela, and the terrifying and rapidly-increasing wealth-gap between the 0.5% and the rest of the world.
Here’s what three of Rojas’s close comrades Danny Glover, Dr. Ben Chavis and Dr. Ron Daniels have written as an appeal: “Family, friends and colleagues of highly- respected, progressive journalist and activist Don Rojas have launched an international GoFundme campaign to assist Don in raising the resources required to fight a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. Please support this campaign and feel free to share it with your respective networks. Thanks.”
Brother Don Rojas is an indispensable soldier in this struggle.
Let’s all help him regain his health so he can rejoin us on the frontlines.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Acerta (The struggle continues! Victory is Certain!).
Please visit the GoFundMe page and make a donation.
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