Black History at Home and Abroad: 10 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global
Arts and Culture

Black History at Home and Abroad: 13 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global


Robertson was one of the first African American film editors in the industry, famously known for his work on Shaft. He also got an Academy Award nomination for his work on 1969’s Midnight Cowboy.

A shrewd negotiator in the 1970s, he parlayed editing gigs for opportunities to direct his own films which included Blaxploitation classics Honey Baby and Melinda. He also took the concept of gangsters and justice fighters of color across U.S. borders with Bim, a film set in Trinidad and Tobago, detailing issues of racism, crime, and colonialism via the narrative of a young East Indian man, who when forced to leave the countryside, navigates rough urban life in the Afro-Trinidadian-dominated Port of Spain.

The film won a gold medal special jury award at the United States Virgin Islands Film Festival in St. Thomas in 1975, and its impact was evident in the power of depicting what a New York Times critic described as “the accumulation of the raw, accurate details of the Trinidadian experience.”

Robertson, who would work as a film instructor and settle in Trinidad until his death in 1988, was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1982 and honored by the Los Angeles Black Media Coalition in 1987.