Roger Toussaint

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 13 11:16:40 MST 2002


NY Times, Dec. 13, 2002
Outspoken From Youth: Roger Ernest Toussaint
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

Roger Toussaint acknowledges that there are some uncanny parallels
between him and Mike Quill, the Irish-born union leader, sometimes
called "the leprechaun from hell," who tormented mayors and led a 12-day
transit strike in 1966.

Like Mr. Quill, Mr. Toussaint, the president of Transport Workers Union
Local 100, is an immigrant; he comes from Trinidad. Mr. Quill was the
seventh of eight children in a poor family; Mr. Toussaint was the
seventh of nine children in a poor family.

Like his predecessor, Mr. Toussaint (pronounced too-SONT) was a
political troublemaker back home; Mr. Quill fought with the Irish
Republican Army, and Mr. Toussaint was arrested as a teenager in
antigovernment protests. Like Mr. Quill, Mr. Toussaint developed a
reputation as one of the most militant union leaders of his time, known
for stirring speeches and for provoking politicians.

(clip)

Looking back, Mr. Toussaint, 46, said his most formative years were as a
teenager battling the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Roger Ernest
Toussaint was born in 1956 and the country gained its independence from
Britain in 1962. In its early stages the government retained "the
vestiges of colonialism," favoring the rich and short-changing the poor.

He became involved in a movement of students and workers protesting,
among other things, government efforts to raise education costs, which
hit the poor the hardest. At 17, he was expelled from his elite high
school after being arrested for painting a slogan, "Free Education Means
Free Books," on the school's walls.

"That whole period politicized the young population and the students,
that generation, myself included," Mr. Toussaint said. "That created a
sort of social consciousness. That is really what I'm a product of."

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/13/nyregion/13TOUS.html

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