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Sun, 07.06.1941

TransAfrica founder, Randall Robinson

Randall Robinson

*Randall Robinson was born in Richmond, Virginia, on this date in 1941. He is an African American activist, nationalist, and administrator.

His parents were educators Maxie Cleveland, a high school history teacher, and Doris Robinson Griffin, a teacher and homemaker. He was educated in the public schools of Richmond, where he and his brother Max, the first African-American network television news anchor, were coached as players on the Armstrong High School basketball team. In 1959, he won a basketball scholarship to Norfolk State College where he was politically active. He left college in his junior year and was then drafted into the army.

He graduated from Virginia Union University in 1967 with a BA in sociology and moved on to Harvard University Law School where he joined a campus protest against apartheid in South Africa. In 1970 he was awarded a law degree and won a Ford Foundation fellowship that allowed him to work in Tanzania. From 1972 to 1975 Robinson was community development division director of the Roxbury Massachusetts Multi-Service Center after which he moved to Washington, D.C., as staff assistant to William L. Clay, U.S. representative from Missouri. From 1976 to 1977, he served as staff attorney for the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights.

Following a visit to South Africa, he and the Congressional Black Caucus, at a Black Leadership Conference, recognizing the absence of African voices in international policy making and the general neglect of black countries, established an advocacy group. Thus, in 1977 TransAfrica came into existence with Randall Robinson as its executive director and founder. Robinson has received many awards of recognition including the National Association of Black Journalists' Community Services Award; Africa Future Award presented by the U.S. Committee for UNICEF; the Humanitarian Award from the Congressional Black Caucus and another from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change; the Hope Award from the National Rainbow Coalition; the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and the Trumpet Award for International Service by the Turner Broadcasting System.

Columbia College, Delaware State College, Morehouse College, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Ohio Wesleyan University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have awarded him honorary degrees. In 1987, Robinson married Hazel Ross, a foreign policy adviser. From his first marriage, to librarian Brenda Randolph, he has two children, Anikie, and Jabari. Robinson has been responsible for a great effort to involve African-Americans in international affairs and to keep before the public the plight of Africa and the Caribbean.

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