Obituary: Layhmond Robinson Jr. / New York reporter paved the way for black journalists

Feb. 11, 1925 - June 29, 2013

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Layhmond Robinson Jr., one of the first black reporters at The New York Times, who later became a local television news correspondent, died June 29 in the Queens section of New York City. He was 88.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his daughter Deborah Robinson said.

Mr. Robinson became a reporter for The Times in 1950, when black faces in the newsroom were rare. He covered crime in Brooklyn, then the New York state Legislature and the contentious 1961 mayoral race between Robert F. Wagner Jr. and then state attorney general, Louis K. Lefkowitz. In 1964, he became the first black president of the Legislative Correspondents Association, a group of reporters covering New York state government.

Mr. Robinson helped to inspire the next generation of black journalists.

"There were, here and there, some black journalists with the white media," Thomas A. Johnson, the first black reporter at Newsday and one of the first black foreign correspondents for The New York Times, wrote in an essay that appears on the website of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. "The fact that Carl T. Rowan, Layhmond Robinson, Bob Teague, Ted Poston, Orrin Evans and some others had cleared that chasm encouraged a number of us to submit our applications to the dailies."

In 1965, Mr. Robinson left The Times for WABC-TV in New York.

Layhmond Mack Robinson Jr. was born Feb. 11, 1925, in Abbeville, La. He served in the Navy as a photographer and writer from 1943 until 1946, and then went to Syracuse University. He graduated in 1949 and moved to New York City, where he became a copy boy at The Times and completed a master's program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Mr. Robinson married Elsie Blair in 1955. She survives him, as do three sons, Philip, David and Christopher; a second daughter, Teresa Kamara; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

After leaving WABC-TV, Mr. Robinson worked in public relations for the National Urban League, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. and the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

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