Editor’s note: The Urbana Black Heritage Festival will be held at Barbara Howell Park on June 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 213 E. Market St. This article is one in a series of Heritage stories leading up to the festival.
December 7, 1941, “Pearl Harbor Day.” The date in which President Franklin Roosevelt said, “would live in infamy.”
Over 80 years ago, Mark Clifton Robison (Robinson) of 207 Hill Street in Urbana would be the first casualty, and first African American casualty, of World War II from Champaign County.
He served on board the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship took on heavy damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, but did not sink. In fact, the ship would go on to serve throughout WW II including during the D-Day invasion of France against Nazi Germany.
The Nevada was dubbed as “unsinkable,” but it finally gave way to an onslaught of target practice firing drills where it sank in the Pacific Ocean in 1948 and came to rest over 15,000 feet below the surface.
Mark Robison (Robinson) was born in Urbana in 1917 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1938. Before his death on board the Nevada he had been stationed on the eastern coast of the U.S., Panama, the Philippines and Hawaii.
Article from Urbana Black Heritage Festival, www.urbanaheritagefestival.org and by email at [email protected]