Max Robinson was an American broadcast journalist, and ABC News World News Tonight co-anchor. He was the first African American broadcast network news anchor in the US and one of the first television journalists to die of AIDS. He was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists. I remember watching him on the news as well. Trivia: In his early years, he was a DJ in Petersburg, Virginia, where he called himself “Max The Player”.
Robinson began his television career in 1959, when he was hired for a news job in Portsmouth, Virginia. 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. He later went to Washington, DC, winning six journalism awards for coverage of civil-rights events such as the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was during this time that Robinson won two regional Emmys for a documentary he did on black life in Anacostia titled “The Other Washington.”
In 1969, Robinson joined the WTOP-TV (now WUSA-TV). He was teamed with anchor Gordon Peterson, becoming the first African-American anchor on a local television news program, and the newscast took off. ABC named London-based World News Tonight co-anchor Peter Jennings the sole anchor following the death of Washington-based WNT co-anchor Frank Reynolds. His career had many problems including alcohol which cost him his job. He had 4 children from being married three times. Two ended in divorce, one in annulment. Robinson was found to have AIDS while he was hospitalized for pneumonia in Illinois, but he kept it a secret. He died of complications due to AIDS on December 20, 1988 at Howard University Hospital.
Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Max Robinson Center was named in his honor in 1993.