At 6’6″, William “Big Willie” Andrew Robinson III — a bowler hat perched atop his head, his voice booming — cut an imposing figure among the youth of South Central Los Angeles during the 1970s. That figure both belied and contributed to his mission, which was to end gang violence and racial unrest through drag racing. Robinson died this past Saturday after a short illness. He was 70.
For a life lived in the furtherance of “peace through racing,” as was his mantra, Big Willie should get the Jalopnik Peace Prize. If there were such a thing.
His seemed an impossible task in a city whose racial entrenchment began decades before. Post-war racial violence in Los Angeles traced its roots to the 1920s, when blacks began to exit a claustrophobic ghetto, seeking elbow room in traditionally white areas, and were met with fists, blackjacks, knives, and gasoline bombs.
CONTINUED at Jalopnik.