The following press statement was issued by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10.
Leo Robinson Memorial Recognizes Bay Area’s Historic Role Against Apartheid in South Africa
On Saturday, March 23, ILWU Local 10 honors the life and struggle of Leo Robinson, who will receive a posthumous prestigious award from the South African Ambassador at the memorial service, which will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the ILWU Local 10 Union Hall, 400 North Point Street, San Francisco, Calif., 94133.
South African Ambassador, Honorable Ebrahim Rasool, will personally present an official statement in the presence of ILWU members and pensioners, Mr. Robinson’s family, as well as various elected officials. Confirming their attendance are also members of the South African Consulate in Los Angeles.
Leo Robinson, legendary ILWU Local 10 rank and file leader, freedom fighter and champion in the struggle for the working class, passed away on Jan. 14 of this year. Leo was inspired by the 1976 uprising of South African students in Soweto and organized the ILWU Local 10’s Southern Africa Liberation Support Committee. In 1984, members of Locals 10 and 34 organized the longest boycott of South African cargo in U.S. history.
In honoring Leo Robinson the Local 10 celebrates its contribution to the people of South Africa during the time when international solidarity made a difference. In the 1970s the policy of the U.S. was to work with apartheid South Africa; Leo Robinson challenged the policy of constructive engagement by speaking out against a system of economic exploitation and racial oppression that mirrored one that he lived through in 1940s Louisiana.
In honoring Leo Robinson, Local 10 and the South African government also recognize countless nameless individual activists who were part of the anti-apartheid movement in the Bay Area. Local 10 is not only celebrating the past but sending a message to current and future generations to emulate Leo Robinson, to be inspired by the courage and vision of their convictions to stand up for what they believe to be right. Local 10 joins Priority Africa Network in calling for renewed solidarity: a bond of unity between individuals united around a common goal — the unifying principles that define the history and struggle.