Broadcaster Max Robinson blazed trails for journalists everywhere by becoming the first African-American newscaster to anchor for a major network. Robinson was also the first Black news anchor to work in Washington, D.C. The Richmond, Va. native achieved these feats all while being a vocal proponent of fighting racial injustice in America.
Born May 1, 1939, Robinson got his start in broadcasting in a most controversial fashion. In 1959, after applying for “Whites-only” jobs, Robinson impressed a Portsmouth station manager so much that he was hired to read news on-air. However, a slide hid Robinson’s race from viewers. One night, as shared by journalist Clarence Page, Robinson removed the slide and revealed to viewers he was Black. Robinson lost the job the following day.
The incident motivated Robinson, who hoped to provide an example of excellence that dispelled outdated views of race. Arriving in Washington in the ’60s, Robinson covered local and breaking news for the local NBC affiliate, WRC-TV, then made history in Washington as an anchor for WTOP in 1969. His coverage of race riots that broke out in the city and other reports earned him a pair of local Emmy Awards.