Robinson was born on October 11, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended St. Louis University for only a year and then transferred to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1947. He graduated with a degree in military engineering in 1951.
Robinson served in the Korean in 1952 as a platoon leader and rifle company commander. For his actions, he received the Bronze Star. Sent back to the United States a year later he became an instructor in the Airborne Department of the United States Army Infantry School. He then went on to graduate from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1963. The following year he received his master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in international affairs.
By 1967, Robinson was serving as a battalion commander in Vietnam. For his actions and achievements, he received the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 11 Air Medals, and two Silver Stars. After Vietnam, Robinson served at the National War College for three years as the executive officer to the Chief of Staff. He was promoted to Brigadier General and in 1975 became Commanding General of the United States Army Garrison, Okinawa.
In 1976, Robinson was promoted to Major General and assigned to command the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. General Robinson was the first African-American to command 82nd Airborne Division. After a battle with leukemia, Robinson died on July 22, 1993, at the age of 64.