Join us for a new series of stories from the Center for Local History highlighting members of our community who made a difference in ways that helped shape our history and created positive change.
Their voices were not always loud, but what they said or did had a significant impact on our community.
John Robinson (1934-2010) was a dedicated community activist who chose to stay and work in the Green Valley neighborhood where he was born and grew up. He attended Howard University, served in the U.S. Army, and worked briefly with Martin Luther King. Inspired by King and his work, he founded and was director of the Dr. Marth Luther King Jr. Community Center in Green Valley for over 40 years.
A strong believer in equal rights for all, Robinson provided help to those in need whatever their race or age, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Center organized clothing and food drives, provided counseling on drug abuse and assistance for low-income people living in Green Valley, as well as other educational programs.
He was there for the community whether it involved drug-related issues, gang violence, or neighborhood conflicts, and his door was always open, sometimes even providing shelter for the homeless in the Center, especially during the winter.
For four decades, Robinson published the Green Valley News, often distributing it door-to-door himself, to help keep residents informed of events in this predominately African-American neighborhood.
Over the years Robinson was recognized for his many achievements from organizations such as the Northern Virginia Branch of the Washington Urban League, Arlington Branch of the NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and was a recipient of the William L. Winston Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Arlington County Bar Foundation. He was also instrumental in the planning of the Arlington County Action Program in the 1960s.
Robinson died in 2010 at age 75. In. 2020, the Arlington County Board officially named the town square in Green Valley the John Robinson, Jr. Town Square in his honor.
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