James T. Robinson, Jr., of Columbus, Ohio, transitioned to eternal peace on Friday, October 7, 2016. He was born to the late James T. Robinson, Sr. and Gertrude Rice Robinson on February 10, 1933 in New York, NY. He was a loving and devoted father, grandfather and friend.
When asked where he was from, he would proudly respond, “Harlem, USA!” At a young age and on his own, he felt led to visit churches around the area near his home until he found a mentor and church home with Rev. James H. Robinson, social justice activist and pastor of Harlem’s Morningside Presbyterian Church. Upon moving to Columbus, he became a member of St. Philip Episcopal Church. He was most recently a member of Faith Ministries Church, under the leadership of Dr. C. Dexter Wise, where he shared that he was filled with the Holy Spirit every Sunday! His demeanor and integrity earned him the nickname “Gentleman Jim.”
He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. After returning home, he attained a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Journalism from the City University of New York (CUNY). He accepted a position with the Fidesta Company (a division of Firestone) as Advertising Manager that moved him to Columbus, Ohio in 1964. In 1968, he was hired by F. & R. Lazarus and Company as Urban Affairs Director and as Assistant to the Vice President of Credit Sales Promotion – winning accolades for innovation in advertising and marketing from his colleagues on Madison Avenue.
His journalism career included the development of the Columbus Communicator News, as well as serving as its first Editor in Chief. He has also been a columnist for numerous newspapers over the years, including the Columbus Dispatch, the Call and Post, Columbus Post, and Business First (Columbus), to name a few.
Jim Robinson’s radio career included hosting talk radio on WVKO, a weekly jazz show on WJZA, and voiceovers on multiple stations. He is most notably known for his daily segment on WCKX in the 1990’s, “Rich, Black Thought.” He was quite often referred to as “The Voice.”
He was instrumental in revitalizing activity around Mt. Vernon Plaza, with promotions of businesses such as Don-Nita’s and the Marble Gang, as well as the coordination of events that brought national recording artists to the Focal Point. During this time in the 1980’s, the office of James T. Robinson Marketing Services (JTRMS) was located there.
Jim taught us to give to our community first and ourselves second. He served as a member of the Federal Task for Against Drug Abuse under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, advocating to treat drug abuse as an illness first and a crime second. UHURU on Nelson Rd. (a Residential Intervention and Rehabilitation Center and Halfway House for first time, nonviolent offenders) was his brainchild. He was instrumental in developing the center and bringing his vision to fruition in 1972, along with the board of Blacks Against Drugs (BAD). During its prime, it was rated number 1 in the state and in the top 10 in the nation.
He worked on hundreds of community campaigns with print, TV and radio commercials and PSAs. Public Issue campaigns included Jim Robinson’s Pen and ‘the Voice’. He was a public speaker, Master of Ceremonies and coordinator for countless events and was instrumental in bringing national speakers to Columbus.
He made the Keep Columbus Beautiful Campaign the final straw in his hat, providing a voice and a bridge from City Hall to local celebrities and organizations, including the Columbus Clippers, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Columbus Crew, and The Ohio State University Buckeye Sports Teams.
He received numerous awards and honors for journalism, advertising and community service, including: CMACAO Appreciation Award (1972), Governor’s Award for Community Action (1973),1st Place Creative Award for Outstanding PR TV Commercial for Lazarus (1976) from the Columbus Advertising Federation in Chicago Advertising Federation, September 21, 1991 recognized as James T. Robinson Day, by the City of Columbus and Police Officers for Equal Rights (POER) for his decades of community service, Who’s Who In Media, Legend Award from the Columbus Association of Black Journalists (CABJ).