Little Known Black History Fact: Earnestine Rodgers Robinson

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Mrs. Earnestine Rodgers Robinson is an African American award-winning musical composer whose oratorios have graced Carnegie Hall. A child of segregation, Robinson fought her way past oppression and poverty to compose pieces like “The Crucifixion”, which is now in the U.S. Library of Congress. The piece, which was produced by her son Tony Robinson, MD, Ph.D, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1997.

Earnestine Rodgers Robinson was born in Memphis, Tennessee to a family of 13. She studied at Fisk University but graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in mathematics. Robinson always focused her attention on the sciences, receiving graduate degrees in philosophy and medical ethics. She had no idea that she was interested in music until she was asked to work on the Easter play at her church – much later in life than most artists begin honing their craft.

One day in 1972, Robinson was preparing to study for the play and opened the Bible to John 3:16. Instead of reading the scripture, she sang the verse, thus opening herself up to the idea of a career in fine arts. Robinson would soon release her first piece, “For God So Loved The World.”

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