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Randall  Robinson

Randall Robinson

Professor of Law, Author & Social Justice Advocate


Randall Robinson, an internationally respected social justice advocate and best-selling author, is also a professor of law at Penn State University. In 1979, he established TransAfrica, the mandate of which is to promote enlightened, progressive US policies towards Africa and the Caribbean. He created – and hosts – the human rights publication television program World On Trial, during which international juries vote on world governments’ adherence to international human rights law. With reference to U.S. domestic policy, Robinson has been sounding the alarm regarding the proliferation of privately owned, money-making prisons and jails, and questions whether U.S. federal, state and local governments’ collaboration with these “businesses” constitutes a violation of international human rights law. Read More >

While president of TransAfrica, Robinson frequently testified before Congress on U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean. He also led the Free South Africa Movement – the nationwide campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1994, his campaign to end military rule in Haiti included a 27-day hunger strike that led to the US-led multinational operation that returned to power Haiti's first democratically elected – but violently overthrown – government. And he spearheaded a range of other campaigns to ensure more constructive U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean. Through his writings, congressional testimony, television appearances and civil disobedience campaigns, Robinson was actively involved in efforts to expose the brutality of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia; the corruption in Nigeria during that country’s era of military dictatorships; and he fought to thwart US attempts to end the Caribbean’s access to the European banana market. He resigned from TransAfrica in 2001.

Robinson connects the dehumanizing portrayal of blacks in the media to the ease with which police shoot unarmed blacks. He classifies the widespread imprisonment of non-violent minorities as a threat to America’s socio-economic stability. And he urges voters to demand that every presidential candidate declare their position on the ethically corrosive phenomenon of prisons being run as privately owned, money-making enterprises in America.

Robinson is a best-selling author whose non-fiction works include Defending the Spirit; The Debt – What America Owes to Blacks; The Reckoning – What Blacks Owe to Each Other; Quitting America – The Departure of a Black Man from his Native Land; and Unbroken Agony – Haiti: From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, and the novel MAKEDA. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Some nineteen universities have bestowed upon him honorary PhDs in recognition of the international impact of his social justice advocacy. Among the other institutions that have honored him are the United Nations, the Congressional Black Caucus, Harvard University, Essence, ABC News (Person of the Week), The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Change, the NAACP, and Ebony, to mention a few. The Government of South Africa has conferred upon him the highest honor permissible to a non-citizen of South Africa, in recognition of his efforts to end apartheid.

Robinson has presented his views and policy recommendations on such shows as Nightline, CNN, CBS Evening News, CBS Sunday Morning, Democracy Now, NPR, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s World News Tonight, The Today Show, C-Span, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Charlie Rose Show, and other leading American television programs. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Prison Shares Trading on US Stock Exchanges: Threat to American Democracy

US Government Collaboration with Private Prisons: Violation of International Law?

Governments’ Responses to International Human Rights Law

The Media’s Portrayal of Blacks & Police Attitudes Toward Them

America’s Human Rights Practices

Mass Imprisonment of Non-Violent Minorities: Threat to America’s Stability