Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

The Words of Renault Robinson

Chicago Policeman, Renault Robinson

Renault Robinson was one of Chicago’s few black police officers in the 1970s. He was a founder of the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League.

We first learned about Robinson from Studs Terkel’s book Working. Studs went around the country in the 1970s interviewing people about their jobs. Robinson’s interview is one of the most powerful parts of the book. He is incredibly honest and blunt about what it was like to be a black police officer, and about the tensions between the police and the black community.

A few years ago, we interviewed Robinson for our series “Working, Then and Now,” which we produced with Project&. When you listen to his words from the 1970s, and from 50 years later, what’s most striking is how much things haven’t changed.

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