Charles Roach was born in Trinidad in 1933. He moved to Canada to do a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Saskatchewan, and went on to attend law school at the University of Toronto. His first movement involvement was with the anti-nuclear “Ban the Bomb” campaign in the early 1960s. Then for several years he focused more on cultural-activism, including playing a leadership role in the early stages of the now-famous Caribana festival in Toronto. In 1968, he left a job with Metro Toronto to go into private practice and to return to a more explicit kind of politics. Over the years he defended Black liberation activists who had fled to Canada, immigrant domestic workers fighting deportation, and many other people targeted by racism and oppression. He organized Black and progressive lawyers, worked against police brutality and racism in Toronto, and became prominent in various kinds of international work around self-determination for oppressed peoples and in support of Pan Africanism.
Material from Roach on this site:
- An audio clip of Roach talking about defending Black Panthers and other Black radicals who fled to Canada from the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.
- An audio clip of Charles Roach talking about his role in organizing Caribbean cultural activities in Toronto in the 1960s, including his early lead role in what has become the masive Toronto festival of Caribana.
- An audio clip in which Roach answers the question of what advice he would give to youth who are committed to creating social change.