One of the best of TV news, Max Robinson


Max Robinson
Date: 
Mon, 1939-05-01

Max Robinson was born on this date in 1939. He was an African American journalist and television news correspondent.

Robinson was born in Richmond, VA, the son of Maxie and Doris Robinson. His siblings were sisters Jewell and Jean and 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 a slide of the station's logo. 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 network television news program. He later went to Washington, D.C. based WRC-TV, and stayed 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. It was during this time that 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 network anchor.

Almost immediately he 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 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, and the Ohio State Award, as well as an award from the National Education Association (NEA). He was also a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Robinson influenced many African-American 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 died of complications of AIDS (which he had kept secret) on December 20, 1988, in Washington D.C.

Reference:
The Associated Press
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Robinson, Max