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Published on June 26th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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In Search of a Visionary

By Pat Nave, Concerned Citizen


“Big Willie” Robinson died last month.

Willie Andrew Robinson III founded the National and International Brotherhood of Street Racers and was its president.

He earned his nickname because he was huge.  He could as easily have earned it for the size of his heart and his vision of how things should be.

Once in a while someone comes along that has a vision, who inspires others, who actually affects change.  Willie was one of those persons.

For years, Willie found places where kids could race their cars legally, and for years the Street Racers operated a track on Terminal Island.  He would set up races between the Bloods and the Crips, between sheriffs and Hell’s Angels.  Once he even challenged Harbor Commission President Steve Soboroff to a foot-race on the drag strip [Willie tripped in his combat boots and Steve won].

But Willie wasn’t really about street racing.  Ask him how things were going, he would say, with distress and sadness, “Oh, another kid got shot on the corner last night. We have to do something.”  Street racing was just a way to try to fix some of those problems.  Vision took him part of the way towards his goal.  His courage, his inspiration, his determination took him the rest of the way.

Willie’s life got me to thinking about vision, inspiration, courage, and determination.  These days it seems so rare.  Rare, because it is these traits that become the star in the sky–the hallmark that helps us make the day-to-day decisions that help make change.  It is the visionary who lives on long after their mortal life is over.

Take Rancho Holdings on North Gaffey for example–the butane tanks.  Where is the visionary who sees a future without those butane tanks and has the power and the will to make our community better?  Where is the leader who says to British Petroleum and Valero, “Do not come to us for permits of any kind until you store the butane on your own refinery property”?  Where is the leader who says to the Port, “Do not come to us for Homeland Security grants until you do something about moving those tanks”?

Who will be that person?

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