Mr. Lawrence (Robbie) P. Robinson migrated to Alexandria in 1968 from Centreville, Virginia. He demitted his membership from the Bull Run Lodge #698 and joined the Alexandria Elks Lodge #48. Robbie had been a member in Bull Run Lodge #698 since 1953. He also became a member of the Alexandria Universal Lodge #1 Free and Accepted Prince Hall Masons as well as a member of the Alexandria Departmental Progressive Club Inc., a private African American club.
Robbie, as his friends fondly called him, immediately advanced through the ranks of these organizations to leadership roles. He implemented educational programs through their Education Departments, and he led several oratorical contest contestants. In each of those organizations, he was elected to the highest level of leadership.
He provided his photography skills to these organizations. Robbie documented the history of those organizations through pictures. His forty-year plus span of photography, he has taken thousands and thousands of pictures of the organizations that he belonged to in Alexandria.
Robbie was born as Lawrence P. Robinson in Centreville, VA in April 1930. He graduated from the Manassas Regional Industrial High School in 1947. His family dates back to James (Gentleman Jim) Robinson, who was born in 1799 as a slave. His master freed Gentleman Jim and he was listed in 1825 as a freed black man. Robbie came from a proud family with a long prospectus history in Prince William and Fairfax, Virginia.
Prior to Mr. Robinson’s migration to Alexandria, Virginia, he was a racecar driver, building his own racecars and engines, winning almost 500 first place trophies. He won the National Hot Rod Association East Coast Championship in E Gas Class (highly modified engines in 1967). He continued for a couple of years competing at racetracks from New York to North Carolina.
He worked for the Federal government at Cameron Station and at the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA prior to his retirement with 50 years of services.
Alexandria’s African American history has been made richer by the dedicated work of Robbie given to the City of Alexandria. He was a member of the first Advisory Board for Charles Houston Recreation Center. Other City boards, Committees or Commissions on which he served were: Alexandria Hospital Finance Committee, Alexandria Health Services Corporation at the Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross, Alexandria Residential Youth Service Board, Alexandria Olympic Boys & Girls Club, Alexandria Young Men’s Christian Association, the Alexandria Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he was elected to serve as the Chairman, Alexandria United Way Allocations Review Panel, Alexandria Forum and Alexandria Concerned Black Citizens. He served on the board of directors of Project Discovery-Alexandria for six years and he is still an honorary member of the board. He continues to be a member of the City of Alexandria Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Planning Committee. He has served for 38 years.
In 2009, Robbie and his wife, Van moved to Prince William County in their new retirement home. At the age of 82 years old, Robbie still comes back to Alexandria and provides his time for the organizations and the City of Alexandria.