Ralph Casimir - A Short Biography
Pan Africanist J.R. Ralph Casimir, poet, writer, and dedicated promoter of our indigenous literature, creativity and culture, was born in 1898 at St. Joseph.
Casimir was a founding member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association led by Marcus Garvey. He was organizer and General Secretary of the Dominican branch from 1919-1922. He also served as an agent for Garvey's shipping line, the Black Star Line. He worked as a bookbinder, commission agent, solicitor's clerk and cantor for the Roman Catholic Cathedral. He served as a Roseau Town Councilor, and secretary of several political organizations including the famous West Indian Conference of 1932.
Pan-Africanism, black awareness and pride and anti-colonialism were a major focus of his writing. He wrote articles and poems to many local regional and U.S magazines. He contributed many articles to the Negro World and he was a correspondent for several publications including the Pittsburgh Courier.
Between 1943 and the latest in 1975, Casimir edited four anthropologies of poems and five collections of his own work. He showcased local recitals songs and Creole speeches at UNIA gatherings. He also founded the first literary society in Dominica.
Proving to be ahead of his time, Casimir's work reflected sincerity and honesty and lacked compromise and so his legacy lives on. In their book entitled, In Search Of Eden: Essays on Dominican History, Gabriel Christian and Irvin Andre write about a poetry collection edited by Casimir "It was art for the islands sake, and it marked the genesis of a Dominican aesthetic in creative writing."
Long live the work and legacy of JR Ralph Casimir.
Ras Mo Moses
Coordinator, ROC Fund.