February is Black History Month, and in the spotlight for Feb. 6, 2016 is Max Robinson, Jr (1939-1988), the first African American to anchor a local newscast, and the first to anchor a network newscast in the history of American television.
Robinson began his broadcast journalism career in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1959, at a radio station that had a “white’s only” policy, which at the time was legal. The station owner hired him as a news-reader, but was told he couldn’t show his face. When Robinson protested, he was fired.
He moved to Washington, D.C. and worked in several behind-the-scenes jobs at two TV stations.
Robinson was hired as a reporter at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. in 1967, and won six journalism awards for his coverage of civil rights events of the time, including the riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
Robinson became the first African American to anchor a TV news program when he joined the “Eyewitness News” team at WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C.
In 1978, Robinson joined "ABC News World News Tonight" as part of a three-anchor format, becoming the first African American to anchor a network newscast. He held that job until 1983.
Robinson died in 1988 from complications due to AIDS.
Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy at Robinson’s funeral service.
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