April 19: Max Robinson Broke The News Media Color Barrier On This Date In 1978

0 Posted by - April 19, 2022 - History, LATEST POSTS, On This Date

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: ABC/Getty Images

On April 19, 1978, Max Robinson (pictured), a pioneer in broadcasting and journalism, became the first Black person to anchor the nightly network news.

Robinson began his career reading the news at a station in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1959. His face was obscured by a graphic reading “NEWS.” He directed the videographer to take the slide out one day.

After moving to Washington D.C., where he started as a TV reporter and eventually co-anchored the nightly news at the city’s most popular station—the first Black anchor in a major US metropolis—Robinson’s reputation began to climb.

His excellent delivery and chemistry with the camera earned him an abundance of praise. He was recognized by ABC News, which relocated him to Chicago and designated him one of three co-anchors on “World News Tonight,” along with Frank Reynolds in Washington and Peter Jennings in London.

Later in his career, Robinson grew more vocal against racism and the media’s depiction of African Americans. He was also one of the 44 founders of the National Association of Black Journalists, and he aimed to train emerging Black broadcasters.

Robinson fell progressively unwell while in Washington D.C. for a lecture at Howard University’s School of Communications in the autumn of 1988. On December 20, 1988, Robinson checked himself into Howard University Hospital, where he died of full-blown AIDS.

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