Roosevelt Bernard Douglas
Former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica
Roosevelt ("Rosie") Bernard Douglas (15 October 1941 – 1 October 2000), was a Dominican politician. In 2000 he became the fifth prime minister of the Caribbean island, holding the office for eight months, from 3 February 2000 until his sudden death later that year at the age of 58.
Early life and education
Rosie Douglas was born on 15 October 1941, the son of a wealthy businessman and coconut farmer who named his boys after world statesmen (he had brothers named Eisenhower and Adenauer). He was schooled in Dominica's capital, Roseau, before applying to study in Canada.
While a student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, he was the charismatic leader of the "Sir George Williams Computer Riot." A dispute over charges of racism levelled against a professor led to the occupation of several floors of the Henry F. Hall Building (then part of the Sir George Williams University) and erupted into violence on Feb. 11, 1969. The computer centre was badly damaged by fire, many of the university's records were lost, and the damages mounted to $2.5 million. The riot still stands as the most dramatic and costly student protest in Canadian history. After police moved in, 97 students were arrested. Douglas was charged with obstructing the use of private property, and found guilty in a jury trial. In 1973-74, he served 18 months of a two-year prison sentence and was then deported. He helped lead the Caribbean's black power movement and fight for Dominica's independence from Britain.
He briefly became a senator after independence in 1978. He was dismissed after he invited Cuban troops to help Dominica following 1979's Hurricane David. In the 1980 election he was defeated; he won a seat in 1985, but lost it again in 1990. After the death of his brother Michael in 1992, Douglas succeeded him as leader of the Democratic Labour Party.
He won a by-election and held on to the seat till his death. In 2000 the DLP won 10 of 21 seats and formed a government with the conservative Dominica Freedom Party. Soon after he came to power, Douglas announced an ambitious plan to bring Dominica into membership of the European Union, given its location between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Death and legacy
He died suddenly in office on 1 October 2000, aged 58.
On 27 October 2014, the Melville Hall Airport enamed the "Douglas – Charles Airport" in honour of former Prime Ministers Roosevelt Douglas for their heroic contributions to the development of Dominica.