Dorothy Redus Robinson, African-American educator, was born in Sublime, Lavaca County, Texas, in 1909 to Caleb Isaiah Redus (1880–1952) and Susie America Aycock (1879–1944). She was the oldest daughter, with one older brother, George Elzy, and four younger siblings—Loda Belle, Leona Harlene, Carlley Lee, and Caleb Raleigh. Her family lived as sharecroppers in Sublime and later moved to Bay City, Texas. Dorothy’s brother George taught her to read, and she eventually attended Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University), where she received her bachelor’s degree.
Her teaching career began in 1928 in Hallettsville, Texas, for one year, and then she taught at the Markham Colored School in Markham, Texas, for four years. In the meantime, Dorothy Redus married Frank Robinson (1902–1976) of Palestine, Texas, in 1930. They were married inside the Rev. M. K. Barlow’s Ford coupe during the summer. Frank Robinson was also a graduate of Prairie View College and was employed as the Negro County Agricultural Extension Agent for Anderson County, headquartered in Palestine. Thus, Dorothy spent the school year in Markham and her summers with Frank. The Robinsons never had children.
In 1933 Dorothy’s Robinson began teaching in East Texas at a school at Pinehill, a town nine miles outside of Palestine. She continued in that position for four years before taking a temporary retirement from the teaching profession to earn more income working for a fraternal insurance company. During this period, Robinson received her master’s degree from San Francisco State Teachers College. She later did advanced work at Syracuse University, Fisk University, East Texas State University, the University of California at Berkley, and the University of Arizona.
Robinson went back to teaching after securing a better financial situation at Lost Prairie School in the small community of Lost Prairie. She organized a PTA at the school. In 1941 she was moved to Flint Hill High School to teach homemaking. While there, Robinson organized an evening class for adult homemakers and was involved with New Homemakers of Texas (NHT) activities. During the years of World War II, the Flint Hill homemaking department, under Dorothy Robinson’s leadership, participated in planting “Victory Gardens,” canning food, and producing clothing to help with the war effort. From 1944 to 1947 the Robinsons lived in San Francisco, California, after Frank resigned his position with the extension service due to a lingering respiratory disorder. Dorothy never again taught high school homemaking.
In 1948 the Robinsons were back in Anderson County, and Dorothy started teaching at Green Bay High School, where she worked several years. In May 1955 Robinson was offered a position at Palestine ISD in the special education program for the following fall. The school district was to begin offering classes to physically handicapped and mentally impaired black children for the first time. The school was called the Fourth Ward School and opened officially for the 1955–56 year. By the end of the school’s first decade in 1965, Robinson had received scholarships from the National Epilepsy League, the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults, and the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness. Her experience teaching handicapped children led to additional opportunities. In 1966 she served as writer on a team to revise the State Curriculum Guide for the Education of Mentally Retarded Children and also served on the executive board of the Teachers State Association of Texas. In 1969 Governor Preston Smith of Texas appointed her to the Advisory Council for Technical-Vocational Education. She was reappointed to the Advisory Council by Governor Dolph Briscoe, Jr., and in 1975 was named to head it, a position she held until August 1978. Additionally, she was the recipient of the National Achievement Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.
Dorothy Robinson retired from teaching on May 3, 1974, after nearly five decades in the profession. In June 1978 she participated in the National Security Seminar at the U.S. War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, her husband Frank Robinson died on October 13, 1976, predeceasing her by nearly three decades. Dorothy Robinson passed away on June 26, 2005, in Palestine and is buried in Memorial Cemetery there.
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Dorothy Redus Robinson, The Bell Rings at Four: A Black Teacher’s Chronicle of Change (Austin: Madrona Press, 1978).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Robinson, Dorothy Redus,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 10, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
July 24, 2013
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