"Mr. Robinson fought for over 30 years to advance U.S. – Africa relations, and realized that only through educating people about the cultures and contributions of Africa and Africans could negative portrayals of the continent be changed. Leonard worked to show the positive images of Africa and bring Africa from the bottom of the U.S. foreign policy agenda to the top."
Noah Samara, Esq., Chairman, Africa Society Board of Directors
Leonard Harrison Robinson, Jr.
April 21, 1943 – July 25, 2006
The late Leonard H. Robinson, Jr, founder of The Africa Society, had more than 30 years working and living experience in international affairs, with regional specialization in Africa and Asia. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1983-85, where he was responsible for the formulation of economic and commercial policies. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State from 1990-1993, he facilitated U.S. policies toward Central and West Africa. His other Africa-related assignments centered on Narcotics, Terrorism, Democracy and the Peace Corps (where he served as a volunteer, Associate Director for India and Director of Minority Recruitment for the U.S.). He also directed U.S. diplomatic initiatives to help in the resolution of the Liberia civil war.
Robinson spent six years as President of the U.S. African Development Foundation, which was established by Congress in 1981 to provide official assistance to community-based organizations and grassroots enterprises throughout Africa. During his tenure, annual Congressional appropriations increased from an initial $1 million to $17 million dollars. He also worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Battelle Memorial Institute.
A native of North Carolina, Robinson received his B.A. from Ohio State University and attended graduate school at the State University of New York, Binghamton. He later attended post graduate school at the American University in Washington, D.C., and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was the recipient of two honorary doctoral degrees.
As a scholar, Robinson was professor of African Studies at the University of Massachusetts, BA, and Senior Fellow at the University’s Center for Development and Democracy under the John W. McCormack Institute.
In 1997, Robinson founded the LHR International Group, Inc., a political policy consulting firm specializing in the analysis of U.S. foreign policy for the heads of state and foreign ministers of African and Asian nations. In 2001, he founded The Africa Society as a direct outgrowth of the historic National Summit on Africa. The Summit held a historic conference on Africa in Washington, D.C. from February 16-20, 2000, which involved the participation of several continental Africans and over 8,000 Americans from every state including President Bill Clinton. With a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Africa Society was established with the prime goal of educating all Americans about Africa.
Robinson was the author of several articles and publications and served on a number of boards. He has been listed in the Who’s Who in America publication since 1985.
Leonard H. Robinson, Jr. passed away on July 25, 2006 after a sudden complication caused by a kidney stone. He’s survived by his two daughters – Kemberley Robinson and Rani Robinson.