Randall S. Robinson
July 6, 1941 |
Richmond, Virginia, United States
|Home town||Richmond, Virginia|
|Height||6 ft 6 in (2.0 m)|
|Title||Distinguished Scholar in Residence|
Hazel (m. 1987)
|Awards||MLK Public Service Award, Ebony Mag|
|Years of service||1960|
Randall Robinson (born 6 July 1941) is an African-American lawyer, author and activist, noted as the founder of TransAfrica. He is known particularly for his impassioned opposition to apartheid, and for his advocacy on behalf of Haitian immigrants and Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Early life and education
Robinson was born in Richmond, Virginia to Maxie Cleveland Robinson and Doris Robinson Griffin, both teachers. The late ABC News anchorman, Max Robinson, was his elder brother. Randall Robinson graduated from Virginia Union University, and earned a law degree at Harvard Law School. He also has an older sister, actress Jewel Robinson, and a younger sister, Pastor Jean Robinson. Both sisters live and work in the Washington, D.C. area.
He and his first wife had a daughter, Anike Robinson, who is a teacher and artist (daughter speaks about growing up during the Apartheid Movement http://www.wpfwfm.org/radio/programming/archived-shows) and a son, Jabari Robinson. He is married to Hazel Ross-Robinson, his second wife, and they have a daughter named Khalea Ross Robinson.
Robinson was a civil rights attorney in Boston (1971-75) before he worked for U.S. Congressman Bill Clay (1975) and as administrative assistant to Congressman Charles Diggs (1976). He was a Ford fellow.
Robinson founded the TransAfrica Forum in 1977, which-according to its mission statement-serves as a "major research, educational and organizing institution for the African-American community, offering constructive analysis concerning U.S. policy as it affects Africa and the African Diaspora (African-Americans and West Indians who can trace their heritage back to the dispersion of Africans that occurred as a result of the Transatlantic slave trade) in the Caribbean and Latin America."  He served in the capacity as TransAfrica's president until 2001.
During that period he gained visibility for his political activism, organizing a sit-in at a South African embassy in order to protest the Afrikaner government's racial policy of discrimination against black South Africans, a personal hunger strike aimed at pressuring the United States government into restoring Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power after the short-lived coup by General Raoul Cédras, and dumping crates filled with bananas onto the steps of the United States Trade Representative in order to protest what he views as discriminatory trade policies aimed at Caribbean nations, such as protective tariffs and import quotas.
In 2001 he authored a book "The Debt: What America Owes To Blacks", which presented an in-depth outline regarding his belief that wide-scale reparations should be offered to African-Americans as a means of redressing what he perceives as centuries of discrimination and oppression directed at the group. The book argues for the enactment of race-based reparation programs as restitution for the continued social and economic issues in the African-American community, such as a high proportion of incarcerated black citizens and the differential in cumulative wealth between white and black Americans. Although some reviewers praised Robinson for delving into a controversial topic that had not been addressed in the mainstream media, others criticized him for reverse racism, and asserted that his own personal success contradicted the dire portrait he portrayed of the conditions faced by African-Americans living in the United States.
In 2003 Robinson turned down an honorary degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Robinson began teaching at The Pennsylvania State University — Dickinson School of Law in the fall of 2008.
In 2001, Robinson quit his position as head of TransAfrica and decided to emigrate to St. Kitts - where his wife, who is a member of a prominent Kittitian family, was born - a decision chronicled in his book, "Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from his Native Land."
Robinson's self-imposed exile was caused by what he describes as his antipathy towards America's domestic policies and foreign policy, both of which he believes exploit minorities and the poor.
Post exile work
In September 2005, Robinson wrote in a Huffington Post blog blasting the Bush Administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina crisis, "It is reported that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive." Subsequently, Robinson issued a retraction of the claim as it proved unsubstantiated. Robinson is currently serving as Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law.
- Pal, Amitabh (October 2005). "Randall Robinson Interview". The Progressive. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
- HERBERT, BOB (January 22, 1998). "In America; The Spirit of Randall Robinson". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
- "Doris Griffin Obituary". The Virginian Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia). November 5, 2009. Retrieved 2014-02-28.
- "Randall S. Robinson, Dr." (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Who's Who Among African Americans. Detroit: Gale. 2011. Gale Document Number: GALE&%7C;K1645537189. Retrieved 2014-02-27. Biography in Context.
- "Randall Robinson" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Encyclopedia of World Biography 23. Detroit: Gale. 2003. Gale Document Number: GALE%7C;K1631008095. Retrieved 2014-02-27. Biography in Context.
- African American Registry: TransAfrica founder, Randall Robinson
- De Witt, Karen (22 August 1991). "At the End of the Day, a Lobbyist Turns Into a Woodworker". The New York Times.
- TransAfrica Forum Mission
- Randall Robinson Interview
- Randall Robinson, Author of An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
- "Dickinson School of Law". Martindale Hubbel. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randall-robinson/new-orleans_b_6643.html Huffington Post
- Robinson, Randall (1978). The emancipation of Wakefield Clay : a novel. London: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Ltd. ISBN 0904521125. LCCN 81451366.
- Robinson, Randall (2011). Makeda. New York: Akashic Books/Open Lens. ISBN 9781617750229. LCCN 2011923178.
- An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, Perseus Books Group, 2007. ISBN 0-465-07050-7
- Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man From His Native Land, Plume Books (Reprint), 2004. ISBN 0-452-28630-1
- The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe to Each Other, Plume (Reprint), 2002. ISBN 0-452-28314-0
- The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Plume, 2001. ISBN 0-452-28210-1
- Defending the Spirit, Plume, (1999). ISBN 0-452-27968-2
- Randall Robinson official website
- Randall Robinson interviewed on Conversations from Penn State
- Randall Robinson on Democracy Now
- Huffington Post biography
- African American Registry biography
- Randall Robinson Interview in The Progressive Magazine
- Randall Robinson: Aristide Says 'Tell the World It Is a Coup' Interview by Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now!."
- Booknotes interview with Robinson on Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America, March 15, 1998.
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with Robinson, July 22, 2007
- In Depth interview with Robinson, February 3, 2013
- Review of Randall Robinson, Alex Dupuy, and Peter Hallward books on Haiti NACLA, 2008