Black historian Dino Robinson honored with street name


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Shorefront founder Dino Robinson stands among archives. The city will honorarily name a portion of Church St. after Robinson for his work preserving Black history in the North Shore.

Delaney Nelson, Assistant City Editor

The city of Evanston will name a part of Church St. after Evanston historian Dino Robinson for his work preserving the North Shore’s Black history. 

The section of Church St. between Hartrey Ave. and Grey Ave. will be designated as  “Morris ‘Dino’ Robinson, Jr. Way,” after Robinson. 

Robinson, a lifelong Evanston resident, established the Shorefront Legacy Center in 1995, the North Shore’s only community archive for Black history. The center has since accumulated 350 linear feet of records documenting Black history in the area, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) said. 

Robinson’s work providing historical documentation of the city’s discriminatory policies and practices has helped further Evanston’s reparations program, aldermen said at Monday’s City Council meeting. Robinson also helped create the Reparations Stakeholders Authority of Evanston, a team of Black residents who will expand reparations work to include education, health and wellness and cultural support.

Robinson also initiated the city’s African American heritage sites program, which sets apart eight significant sites with historical markers, as well as its annual Black Evanston History Makers program.

At the meeting Monday, Robinson thanked the community for supporting his work at Shorefront and for making use of the archives he has helped collect.

“I really owe a debt of gratitude toward the city of Evanston’s community, especially the Black community,” Robinson said. “You helped raise me. I’ve been here since 1980, and all I could think of is how strong this community is and what way can I give back to a community that gives so much.”

Shorefront Board President Chip Ratliff said during public comment when it comes to Black history, Robinson’s work has put Evanston on the map. 

Robinson has received several community awards, including the Community Leadership Association “Distinguished Leadership Award” in 2002 and the Evanston NAACP Education award in 2010. Shorefront has also received global recognition for its archives, and Ratliff said organizations from around the world have reached out to the center as a resource.

“His vision is that Black history should be common knowledge,” Ratliff said. “He has spent the last 25 years working hours that some of us might not even imagine, or possibly even have in our bodies and souls, pointed towards making sure that Black history on Chicago’s suburban North Shore is kept.”

Both Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) and City Clerk Devon Reid said Robinson’s work has helped them trace their own families’ local roots. 

Fleming said honoring Robinson with a street sign is the least the city could do to thank him for his work he has done.

“I just want to thank you for your love of the Black community here in Evanston,” Fleming said. “You took this on for no money, no glory — just because you love Black people and wanted their history to be kept.”

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Twitter: @delaneygnelson

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