Robinson, Judson Wilbur, Jr (1932–1990)

By: Shawna D. Williams

Type: Biography

Published: May 24, 2013

Updated: November 1, 2017

Judson Wilbur Robinson, Jr., businessman and Houston councilman, was born on November 21, 1932, in Houston, Texas. He was the son of Josie and Judson Robinson, Sr. He graduated from Jack Yates High School in Houston’s Third Ward in 1950 and later attended Fisk University where he obtained a bachelors degree in business administration in 1954. Robinson later returned to Houston and married Margarette Thompson on June 8, 1958. They had two sons, Gerald (who died in infancy) and Judson III, and a daughter, Pamela.

Robinson joined his father as a sales manager at Judson W. Robinson & Sons Real Estate and Mortgage Company, where he became president after his father’s retirement in 1978. He was a successful businessman and organized R.M.P. Development Company, which was the first African-American franchise of the Burger King Corporation. He was a co-owner of Houston’s KCOH radio station, the first black-oriented radio station in Texas; it went on the air in 1953.

Robinson entered the political realm in 1967; he was the Precinct 259 judge of the Pleasantville community. He served in this capacity until 1971, when he was elected to the at-large Position 5 on Houston’s city council; he became the first African American elected and was subsequently re-elected five times. He remained on the city council until his death. During his time in office he championed economic development in Houston’s poor neighborhoods and advocated the hiring of more minority employees for the city’s police and fire departments. Robinson also served twice as mayor pro-tem—he was nominated by mayors Louie Welch and Kathy Whitmire. He was a member of the Democratic State Executive Committee from 1968 to 1971.

Outside of politics, Robinson served as a member on the board of regents for Texas Southern University and the University of St. Thomas. He was president of St. Elizabeth Hospital and a director of Riverside Hospital and Riverside National Bank. He committed his life to the public through many organizations and served the city of Houston for more than thirty-six years. Robinson died in Houston on November 15, 1990, after a long battle with cancer. He was buried in Paradise South Cemetery in Pearland in Brazoria County. Later that year his wife Margarette Robinson was appointed to his city council seat; she served until 1992 when their son was elected to the seat. A Houston library, elementary school, and community center are named in Robinson’s honor.

Houston Chronicle, November 16, 1990. “Judson Wilbur Robinson, Jr.,” Find A Grave Memorial (, accessed April 15, 2013.


  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Business
  • Politics and Government

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Shawna D. Williams, “Robinson, Judson Wilbur, Jr,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 24, 2013
November 1, 2017

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: