The Mantle of Struggle

The Mantle of Struggle

A Biography of Black Revolutionary Rosie Douglas

By Irving Andre, Foreword by David Austin


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Rosie Douglas, former prime minister of Dominica, had a life unlike any other modern politician. After leaving home to study agriculture in Canada, he became a member of the young Conservatives, under the Canadian prime minister’s guidance. However, after he moved to Montreal to study political science his politics started to shift. By the late sixties he was an active civil rights supporter and when Black students in Montreal began to protest racism in 1969, he helped lead the sit-in. He was identified as a protest ringleader after the peaceful protest turned into a police riot, and served 18 months in prison.

After his deportation from Canada in 1976, having been named a danger to national security, Douglas participated in political movements around the world building global solidarity. He became a leader of the Libyan-based revolutionary group World Mathaba and supported Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. Once back home in Dominica, he led the movement for Dominica’s full political independence from Great Britain, then served as a senator in the post-independence government, an MP, party leader, and finally prime minister.

Relying on family sources, interviews, newspaper articles, government documents, and Douglas’ own articles, letters, and speeches, Irving Andre has drawn a rich and riveting record of this important Black revolutionary.

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“An intimate portrait of one the most important but underappreciated Pan-Africanists of the post-war period whose intrepid activism linked African peoples throughout the Atlantic world. Andre’s penetrating biography of Rosie Douglas is a must-read account of the soul of African folk to vanquish imperialism, colonialism, and other forms of anti-Black exploitation and domination.”

– Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, author of Cross-Border Cosmopolitans: The Making of a Pan-African North America

“A long overdue assessment of the life and activism of the extraordinary Rosie Douglas, Andre’s book captures the complexities of the man and the breadth of his achievements, giving him his rightful place among the firmament of the greats who have struggled for Caribbean and Pan-African liberation.”

– Kate Quinn, associate professor in Caribbean History, University College London

The Mantle of Struggle chronicles the astonishing life of Dominica’s former prime minister Rosie Douglas, one of the most extraordinary international political actors of the 20th century, who, despite hailing from a tiny outport in the Caribbean, became a hugely influential operator on the world stage. It’s an illuminating portrayal of a son of privilege who was also a man of the people, selfless in his commitment to uplift the wretched of the earth. He was a political revolutionary and anti-imperialist champion of global resistance movements. Imprisoned for his role in the biggest campus rebellion in Canadian history, Douglas was an unrepentant political pragmatist who counted John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Angela Davis, and Kwame Ture as mentors, associates, and comrades. This is a book of revelations and endless intrigue.”

– Adrian Harewood, journalist, associate professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University

“To fully understand Canada’s antagonism with blackness and Black people, this biography of Rosie Douglas proves to be a necessary and important foundation. From student activist to prime minister of Dominica, Douglas’s life is an example of transnational Black activism and deep insight into the central place of the Caribbean and its intellectuals in shaping the modern world. Irving Andre’s account of Douglas’s life is both instructive and heartbreaking.”

– Rinaldo Walcott, author of On Property: Policing, Prisons, and the Call for Abolition

“From the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica to Canada and back, Irving Andre’s work has immediately become the benchmark by which both future biographies and political histories of the Caribbean, Black Canada, and Pan-Africanism will be measured. The complexity, movement, growth, and unwavering purpose of Rosie Douglas’s life is brilliantly captured here in depth for the first time thanks to the richness of archival work and wide-ranging interviews. It is a treasure trove for those wishing to learn more about the radical history of the Caribbean and Canada, and Douglas’s often central place in these struggles for genuine decolonization and freedom across both time and space.”

– Kevin Edmonds, assistant professor, Community Engaged Learning and Caribbean Studies, University of Toronto

The Mantle of Struggle is a page-turner about the life and memory of Rosie Douglas: revolutionary, activist, civil rights and Black power leader, visionary, and prime minister of Dominica. Irving Andre has done justice to Douglas by writing an insightful, lucid, and detailed book about this extraordinary and compelling Caribbean revolutionary. A vital contribution to Black, Pan-African, Canadian, and Caribbean history and studies, this work is a tour de force, and I thank Irving Andre for it.”

– Dr. Afua Cooper, Killam Research Chair in African Diaspora History, Dalhousie University


Foreword by David Austin
Preface and Acknowledgements
Part One 1. The Island of Dominica
2. Portsmouth Harbour
Part Two 3. The Heir Apparent Defects
4. A Gathering Storm
5. The Sir George Williams Incident
6. The Prosecution of Rosie Douglas
7. Incarceration
8. Black Radicalism in Toronto
9. Deportation
Part Three 10. Return to Dominica
11. Political Independence
12. Freedom Fighter
13. Domestic Politics
14. The Road to Victory
15. The January 2000 General Election
Part Four 16. Forming a Government
17. Internal Dissension
18. The Final Curtain
19. The Death of Rosie Douglas
20. Rosie’s Legacy
Appendices I. Statement from the Don Jail, Toronto, December 1971
II. Statement from the Leclerc Institution, January 3, 1974
III. Message of Greetings to the Socialist Party of France, Brest, November 21-23-1997
IV. Speech on the Swearing In of the Cabinet of the Government of Dominica, February 7, 2000
V. Statement at the 55th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 19, 2000