Biography

Frank Edward Robinson was born on April 25, 1937 to the late Adkin and Mary Robinson in White Plains, New York. He transitioned on December 1, 2018 at Calvary Hospital in The Bronx, New York. Frank was a resident of The Bronx, New York for nearly seventy-five years. He was educated in New York City public schools in the Bronx and Manhattan and later studied acting at the American Community Theater under the direction of the late Maxwell Glanville. He was united in marriage to Claretha Fleming on November 27, 1965. In this union they raised three children. Frank completed one tour of service in the United States Marine Corps beginning in 1956. Later, while raising his family and pursuing an acting career, he gained employment with the United Postal Service where he remained until his retirement in 2001. His true passion was for the arts as a vehicle for cultural and political awareness. This led him to join a group of artists with similar interests and worldview to help found the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios (AJASS), a progenitor of the Black Arts and "Black is Beautiful" movements, out of which grew the renowned Grandassa Models and the "Naturally" show. In addition to being one of two male "Naturally" models, Frank served as the Director of the AJASS Repertory Theater, staging and appearing in Caste Life Revue and Portrait of Patrice Lumumba. Forever connected to his AJASS family, Frank extended his reach as he pursued a career as a professional actor, devoting his time talent and energy to theater as a performer, teacher and mentor. Performing in venues at home and abroad (Switzerland, France and Italy), Frank worked in stage, television and on the big screen. Among his stage credits are Amiri Baraka's Slave Ship; Ray Aranha's My Sister, My Sister; Richard Wesley's The Mighty Gents; Phillip Hayes Dean's Every Night When the Sun Goes Down; Melvin van Peebles' Ain't Supposed to Die A Natural Death; August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone & Two Trains Running; Leslie Lee's Black Eagles; Public Theater Productions of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and Corelainus. As a member of Gertrude Jeannette's HADLEY Players Repertory Company, Frank also appeared in This Way Forward, A Bolt from the Blue and Gladys' Dilemma. Film appearances include Across 110th Street, Fort Apache The Bronx, Love and Death, Taxi Driver, Heart, For Love of the Game and Malcolm X. Work in television includes Like It Is, Kojak, The Equalizer, Spencer for Hire, New York Undercover, Law and Order and The Cosby Show. Frank was most proud of his theatrical representation of the djeli or grio- the traditional Afrikan oral historian. Widely received by national audiences, his one-man play "The Griot," was conceived and performed by Frank in community venues and public schools across the country as a tribute to the history, and literary legacy of Afrikan people. His belief in and commitment to Pan Africanism, family and community compelled Frank to use his life and his home as an example of these principles. Together with his wife Claretha, he opened The Pan African Learning Center. Housed in their home, the school was funded and operated by a small parent cooperative group and staffed by licensed educational professionals. The objective was to find an alternative to the public and parochial curriculum available at that time. For ten years, the couple also sponsored a family organized and funded annual 3-day camp experience of supervised dormitory living, fishing, boating, hiking, communal living and recreation in Brewster, New York for extended family and young people in the community. In addition to living the Nguzo Saba Kawaida Principles, Frank and Claretha opened their home yearly for friends, family and community for Karamu Feast during each Kwanzaa season from 1972 to the present. Frank loved Claretha and his children and they loved him back. He delighted in telling his children and grands stories about his life experiences. He and Claretha enjoyed traveling, but they also loved entertaining, so their home was the center of most family activities. Among some of his other pleasures, Frank enjoyed listening to Jazz, naming the tunes and the artists. His favorite sports were baseball and boxing and he spent many hours rewatching classic films. He helped cultivate his granddaughter Kalimah's interest in Jazz. He also greatly influenced his grandson Abdullaye's interest in fashion and art. Robinson Frank Adu was a very interesting man who seemed to know something about everything. Everyone has a Frank, Daddy, Frankie or Uncle Frank story. Left to honor Frank's rich life, and precious memory are his wife Claretha (The Bronx, New York); son, Nicholas Robinson (Seattle, Washington); daughter, LaShawn Hamilton (and Charles) (Brooklyn, New York); daughter, Zena Robinson-Wouadjou (Harlem, New York); his dear sister, Juanita Hartwell (The Bronx, New York); a brother, Lawrence Robinson (and Grace) (Harlem, New York); a sister-in-law, Inez Robinson (Oakland, California); five grandchildren- Sadé, Anthony, Nia, Abdullaye and Kalimah; two great-grandchildren- Zakkai and Azaria; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and close friends.