In January, Mark Robinson, a Republican from Greensboro, North Carolina, was sworn in as the state’s first African American lieutenant governor. After garnering the most votes among eight other candidates in the Republican primary, Robinson in November defeated a Democrat candidate who had served four terms in the state House—by nearly 178,000 votes. He staked his first-ever political campaign on defending the sanctity of human life and upholding the First and Second Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Robinson’s rise to political prominence was launched in April 2018 when he addressed the Greensboro City Council to oppose city leaders’ consideration of canceling a local gun and knife show scheduled at the Greensboro Coliseum. His impassioned four-minute speech has been viewed online several million times. Robinson recently spoke with Decision about his improbable path to the second-highest post in state government and his mission and vision for his role as lieutenant governor.
Q: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
A: I was a churchgoer from the time I was very young. But when I was in college, my best friend encouraged me to go to a church meeting at the student union at North Carolina A&T State University. And it was at that meeting where I came to understand what it meant to repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. And that was the moment that I got saved.
My spiritual journey has come in many stages, leading me to where I am right now. I had a religious journey before that because I was in the church and understood that there was a God, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Q: You have been a husband to Yolanda for 30 years. You are a father of two adult children, grandfather of two, and now lieutenant governor of North Carolina. Ultimately, what is your measure of success?
A: The thing I’m most concerned about is not how voters see me, it’s not how my political comrades see me; it’s not any of that. The legacy that I want is to leave this earth and stand in front of God and that God be pleased with me. My mission in life is to please God, and in everything I do, I try to keep that in mind.
If it’s not pleasing to God, I’m just not going to do it. I made a promise to Him that I would go wherever He wants me to go and do whatever He wants me to do no matter what it was, and I take that promise very seriously, and I believe that He’s with me and He’s guiding every step that I take.
Q: How does the next-to-the-youngest of 10 children, growing up in and out of foster care and raised by a widowed mother, ascend to presiding over the North Carolina Senate as the first African American Republican to win a major seat since the 1800s?
A: I attribute a lot of that to my mom. She faced a lot of difficulties early in life, but ultimately, my mom, in her adult years, came to rely on God. And I believe her prayers are what protected her children from many of the things that society said we should have fallen into.
All of us have ended up in good places. It’s just amazing to me how people don’t believe that God is real because I firmly believe that the reason why I’m sitting where I am right now is because my mother prayed for God’s wisdom to come into my life, prayed for me to have faith in God and led me toward God.
Not just prayed, but led me toward Him. She made going to church an integral part of our lives. She always let us know that we could do anything as long as we put our hands in God’s hands. So, that’s why I believe we can overcome anything on this earth through hard work, perseverance and an abiding faith in God.
Q: How do you explain going from being a political novice to resoundingly winning your first campaign as a Republican in a state that reelected a Democrat governor?
A: I’ve learned a lot about God’s faithfulness, about how God lines things up. For Christians, there are no accidents. There is no luck. It is all part of His design, and He has ordered my steps—even into some of the things that were miserable for me. The times in my life that were miserable, I believe He had me walk through those things for the moment that I’m experiencing right now. At this point in my life, I thought I would be well into working on my Ph.D. in history, but God had a different path for me.
Q: How does the history of civilizations warn us about today’s rising cancel culture?
A: History and our Bible can answer any question that we need answered, of course the Bible being the highest form of answers for anything that we need. But all these earthly questions that we have, many of them can be found in history.
What did they do during the French Revolution? They created a pile of fear, and if you didn’t go along with the system, they would cut your head off. How did that turn out for the French? It didn’t turn out well. They ended up right back with another dictator in Napoleon.
The same thing happened in 1917 in Russia. They silenced all the voices except those of the Soviets, the communists, the socialists. All the other voices were thrown into gulags, and how did that turn out for them? Mass starvations and mass killings and mass incarcerations.
We saw it again with the Germans. They did the same thing. They silenced voices. They banned books. And how did that turn out? It turned out with 6 million Jews being killed at the hands of the Nazis. And then we saw it again in China, and we saw it again in Cambodia. We’ve seen how these things turn out.
And here in the freest land on Earth, we’re headed down the same path, with increasing censorship of free speech, cancel culture run amok, and anti-American and racist indoctrination in our schools. We have to stop this. It is dangerous for our freedom, so we’ve got to stand up. Education is not a social engineering experiment so we can see how many minds we can twist left or right. Give those young people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds.
Q: You have said that the answer to reducing America’s rampant gun violence is not restricting law-abiding gun owners’ rights but upholding the sanctity of life in the womb. Please explain.
A: Abortion is the pivotal issue in this nation. The most innocent you can get is a child in the womb. A child in the womb has done nothing to anyone. We live in a society where we are willing to murder the only innocent human life on Earth. And I think we’re setting ourselves up for disaster. Lots of people will look at me, of course, and call me a religious nut for saying that. But again, that doesn’t matter.
This is my Biblical worldview. I truly believe that if we continue on the course that we are on with abortion and continue to allow it to be the law of the land in this nation, then God is not going to allow us to keep murdering these babies and get away with it. And I think the more we do it, the more He’s going to take His hands off of us and turn us over to our own devices. We can see the dreadful effects of that now. We’ve wondered why children have come to school and murdered their classmates. We wonder why people kill each other in the streets. It’s because they see us not respecting human life at its very beginning.
Q: Is there an example of when your faith was strengthened by God’s intervention in your life?
A: I worked for a furniture manufacturer in High Point, North Carolina, and put many years into that place with people who had worked there for decades. I remember the day they told us the plant was shutting down and how many tears were being shed that day.
I can remember having this feeling of peace, and I said to myself, “This is not where your story ends. You are going somewhere else to do something else. It’s going to be to a greater place.”
On the day that I left, I wrote to my colleagues. I left them an email recounting how when I came to that job, financially, emotionally, I was at a pretty rough place. I was kind of a broken person, but when I left, I left with wings on my heels. I knew that God was faithful and He was going to allow me to continue to succeed in life. I knew it. Now at other times in my life, I had not felt like that, but I had reached a point in my life spiritually at that time where I knew that God was with me and that God could supply all things.
And it was about three years after that when I gave that speech before the Greensboro City Council, and it changed my life, and now here I am. The faithfulness of God is just amazing; it really is.
Q: What compelled you to defend your Second Amendment rights during that Greensboro City Council meeting in April 2018 in the wake of the parkland, florida, high school shooting?
A: A criminal in Florida committed a criminal act, and then we have a city government that thinks they should punish the people of Greensboro, North Carolina, because of the actions of a criminal in Florida. It was infuriating. That speech was completely off the cuff. I was just speaking my mind, and it was something that I felt like needed to be said in that hall because there was absolutely no common sense, no decency; nothing right was being said in that place.
I felt like I needed to say something and I did. God had me behind that lectern because He needed people to stand up and defend the rights that He’s given people in this great nation. And thank God, it made a difference.
Interviewed by Lee Weeks, assistant editor.
Photo: Ethan Hyman/The News and Observer/Newscom