Randall Robinson: A Life Well-lived

A few days ago, I learned of the passing of Randall Robinson. I learned about it, not from a major media outlet, but from a colleague who posted on Facebook. I immediately checked the news outlets, but nothing was posted – that I could find – until yesterday, two days after his death.

I kept looking for the coverage and was surprised that someone of his stature would not be lauded by the national media. Then it struck me. Do I know Randall Robinson because he was from Richmond, my hometown? Do most white people, and younger Black people, not know who he was? Why isn’t the passing of this remarkable man being announced and his work recognized and celebrated?

I don’t know why his passing isn’t being widely announced. I do know that I want to recognize someone who I felt had lived his life with passion and purpose.

Randall Robinson founded TransAfrica in 1977, an organization committed to influencing American foreign policy in relation to African and Caribbean countries.

Randall Robinson organized and led the protests, beginning in 1984, in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, DC focused on freeing Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. His voice and his actions were critical in elevating Mandela’s plight and leading to the multiple interventions instrumental in his release.

In 2000, Randall Robinson’s book, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks was published. This was the first book I read that fully explored the concept of reparations.

Randall Robinson left America in 2001 and moved to the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts noting that he was looking for a place that was more welcoming to Black people.

I hope you will reflect on this life well-lived, why his life isn’t getting the deserved recognition, and then look at his work as another example of how to make a difference in the fight for racial justice.

Reveal. Reflect. Recalibrate.