Alfred Robinson was the city of Vallejo's first African-American police officer, but his career was likely the shortest in the North Bay city's history.
Robinson got his badge in 1948, only to have it taken away two weeks later after being told the city was not ready for a black cop. His 64-year-old son, Lt. Herman Robinson, is now the Vallejo Police Department's longest-serving officer in its history, with more than four decades on the force.
"I like to say I have the job my father couldn't have," Robinson said. "Everything goes back to my father and the values he instilled in me."
The elder Robinson was hired as the department's custodian in 1946. He was promoted in 1948, becoming Vallejo's first African-American police officer. His family and the black community were proud of the accomplishment.
"Everybody was very happy for him, and they commented, 'We're seeing history made tonight,' because no black man had ever worn a police uniform in the city of Vallejo," Robinson said.
But it was short-lived. Alfred Robinson's badge was revoked two weeks later.
"The city's founders didn't feel it was the right time to have a black police officer," Robinson said.
Alfred Robinson went back to mopping floors and continued as department custodian until he died in 1968. He never complained to his seven children about the slight.
"It was something he kept inside of him. He took it to his grave," Robinson said. "I'm sure he had to swallow a lot of pride to continue working for the city."
Herman Robinson was hired in 1973 and has remained on the force for 43 years.
His father is credited with opening the door for officers of color.
"It's all because of things he instilled in me," Robinson said, "that I wanted to be the best I could be."