Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the late Jimmy Robinson, the well-respected Minnesota basketball official and longtime state coordinator of basketball officials for the Minnesota State High School League, was his work developing and promoting African-American game officials.
Robinson, a 1951 graduate of now-closed Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul, became the first Black official to work a state tournament game when he was selected as an official for the 1971 state tournament. He also officiated in the state tournaments in 1972 and 1973 and later worked Big 10 Conference games, a role he held until 1987.
Now the league has developed a patch honoring Robinson, who died Nov. 30 at age 88, and his pioneering work intended to be worn of the sleeve of officials uniforms across the state.
With COVID-19 issues altering the league's budget this year, it doesn't have funding to distribute the patches to all 2,000 officials statewide.
In response, the Minnesota Association of Officials of Color (MN-AOC) is leading a GoFundme effort to raise about $10,000 deemed necessary to provide a patch to every official in the state.
LaMarr Sullivan, who has officiated high school sports for 17 years and is a member of the MN-AOC, has created a GoFundMe page to help finance the distribution of the patches.
"In 1971, Jim became the first African-American to officiate the MSHSL boys' state basketball tournament. Since then, every state tournament has included African-American officials," Sullivan said Sullivan in a statement made available to the Star Tribune. "I am one of countless whose lives have been impacted for the good by Jim's compassion for others, tireless work ethic, and blazing the trail for future generations."