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Mon, 05.01.1939

Max Robinson, TV News Anchor born

Max Robinson

Max Robinson was born on this date in 1939. He was a Black journalist and television news correspondent.

Robinson was born in the Jackson Ward district of Richmond, VA, the son of Maxie and Doris Robinson. His siblings were sisters Jewell and Jean and his brother Randall. He attended Oberlin College, Virginia Union University, and Indiana University. Robinson began his television career in 1959 when he was hired for a news job at WTOV-TV in Portsmouth, VA. He had to read the news while hidden behind the station's logo slide.

One night, Robinson had the slide removed and was fired the next day. Later that year, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he was the first African American anchor on a local television news program on WTOP-TV Channel 9.  In 1969, he became the first African American anchor on a television news program. He later went to Washington, D.C., based on WRC-TV, and worked for three years.

During that time, he won six journalism awards for his coverage of such events as the 1968 riots after civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, the antiwar demonstrations, and the national election.  During this time, Robinson won two regional Emmys for a documentary he did on Black life in Anacostia, a Black community, titled "The Other Washington." At WTOP, he was teamed with Gordon Peterson for 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM newscasts. In 1978, Robinson joined ABC’s World News Tonight, becoming the first African American television network anchor.

He immediately took it upon himself to confront the perverse racism at any cost. ABC’s management became frustrated with him and moved him to the post of the weekend anchor. In 1983, he left ABC for WMAQ-TV in Chicago, where he remained for two years.  Robinson also taught at Federal City College in Washington, D.C., and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

During his career, he received many awards, including the Capital Press Club Journalist of the year award, the Ohio State Award, and an award from the National Education Association (NEA). He was also a co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Robinson influenced many Black journalists who have held anchor positions on national news broadcasts, including Ed Bradley, Bryant Gumbel, Carole Simpson, Lester Holt, Robin Roberts, and others.

Max Robinson, an open member of the LGBT community, died of complications of AIDS on December 20, 1988, in Washington, D.C.

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