A passion for his conservative views, the overcoming of childhood poverty and witness to domestic abuse, and a viral video have propelled Greensboro native Mark Robinson on the road to a bid for the office of lieutenant governor of North Carolina.
Visiting with Ashe Post & Times Monday, Robinson expanded on those views and shared a journey that begins as the ninth of 10 children in a poor Greensboro household and continues through an enlistment in the U.S. Army, a marriage, as a small-business owner and in a speech to the Greensboro City Council about Second Amendment rights that has been viewed online tens of millions of times.
Even before his current journey, before his viral speech on gun rights, Robinson had built a social media following of thousands.
“Before all that happened, when I was working full time and going to school, I had quite a social media following,” Robinson said. “I had about 15,000 followers on my page. But, what drew me into the fray — because before that I was heavily concentrated on personal growth; I was working full time and going to school full time, my plan was to be a history professor at the college level — was that after the city council speech went viral, I got drawn into this by GOP groups, gun organizations and Second Amendment advocates.
“It was then that I saw a place for me to get in politically and socially and really get active. I saw how I was able to help, and so I put everything on hold and decided to commit myself to spreading the conservative word and things I feel can help this Republican team to thrive.”
But Robinson admits that his own thriving — personally, professionally and politically — was far from being an expected outcome given the circumstances of his childhood.
“The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome are the feelings of inadequacy I had when I was young,” Robinson said. “I grew up so poor and so separated from the world that there was a time that when people would say the word, ‘people,’ I didn’t consider myself a person. I wasn’t sure what I really was because we were so closed off. We didn’t have a telephone, didn’t have a car. I always felt like what I had to offer was not enough.”
Yet, Robinson said, there was someone in his life who offered much for both his survival and future.
“I’m the son of an alcoholic father who beat his wife,” Robinson said. “Statistically speaking, I should be either an alcoholic or a wife beater, and I’m neither. And, I really believe I’m not because of the prayers of my mother. My mother prayed protection over me. She made sure I was around people who didn’t do those things, who showed me the right way to go.
“My mother put me around good people, and I’d look at them and think they had it all together. And, then I’d hear their story and I was like, wow, their story is just like mine.”
A large part of Robinson’s story today, he said, is due to the influence of his mother and her prayers — two touchstones he keeps with him at all times. When hard times come, or he has seemingly insurmountable challenges before him, it is his Christian beliefs that help him survive and achieve his goals.
“The first thing I say to anybody,” Robinson said, “is to lean on faith. But, even if you don’t believe in God, then you need to know yourself, know what your mission in life is — and then you have to make a plan to get there.
“One of the things that really finally helped me succeed in college — I went to college three times — was that each time I was missing one thing: I was missing a plan. Finally I had a plan. I had a road map drawn out how I was going to become a college professor; and because I had that plan I started succeeding in life. I was working 50-60 hours per week and going to school full-time, five classes, and I was succeeding at the highest levels on both fronts. I was able to do that because I had a plan, and I believed in myself, and I had people around me who believed in me.”
Now, Robinson wants to share what he believes with the people of North Carolina in the capacity of lieutenant governor.
“The plan to get to the lieutenant governor’s office is our message,” Robinson said. “We’re pro-life, pro-Second Amendment — and when I say pro-Second Amendment I mean pro-Constitution. We’re pro-education — and when I say pro-education I mean education over indoctrination. We've got to get back to educating our kids and stop indoctrinating them. That’s why so many kids are falling through the cracks now. They’re going to school and learning about these social engineering programs that don’t reach them, and they’re disillusioned because they’re not learning anything.
“The last things are taking care of our veterans — our state does a woeful job of that right now — and, standing up for law enforcement. When we have adequate law enforcement on our streets, doing the right things, we can make a difference.”
Before Robinson can make that difference he will have to face a full slate of Republican candidates during the March 3 primary election. He said he understands that — and that he has faith that he will make it to the November election on the strength of his message.
Things such as going from four Facebook friends to 15,000 and making speeches that have been seen by millions are testaments to that, he said.
“When you tell the truth you don’t really need to do anything,” Robinson said. “The truth will spread on its own.”