Black Stuntmen’s Association Said Freedom Fighter William Robison Deserves Recognition
Before the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements, an African-American stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo risked life and limb to defend his people.
Former slave William Robison was a miner, pioneer and freedom fighter who worked to desegregate California schools and was part of the 1856 state Convention of Colored Citizens that used petitions to allow blacks to testify in court. He even joined an armed gang that freed a group of illegally apprehended slaves in San Joaquin County, Calif, according to Wells Fargo.
Besides his work in advancing civil rights, Robison’s day job was driving a Wells Fargo stagecoach between Stockton, Calif. and the Nevada gold mines. He drove the six-horse stagecoach for 40 years before retiring in 1895.
The Black Stuntmen’s Association spent the last two years lobbying Wells Fargo to commemorate Robison with a commercial featuring an African-American stagecoach driver – even submitting a script – but they said the multi-national corporation has given them the runaround, association president Willie Harris told BOSSIP.
“We tried to get Wells Fargo to let us do the commercial, and use a black in their commercial. They refused,” said Harris, 73, who helped create the Black Stuntmen’s Association in 1967 to challenge racism in Hollywood. “Why can’t you do a commercial with a black stagecoach driver? What’s wrong with letting a black kid know about their history?”
When the black stuntmen’s group told Wells Fargo that it had members who could drive a “six-up” or a six horse stagecoach, Harris said Wells Fargo execs told him they only do a few commercials each year and could not accept unsolicited ideas.
Wells Fargo can obviously advertise in any way that it wants, but it could use the goodwill after it’s $175 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over its unfair lending practices to African-Americans and Latinos.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Valerie Williams told BOSSIP that although they’re not pursuing the black stuntmen’s proposal, they’ve honored Robison in their corporate history book, “Since 1852,” and Robeson’s story appears on their blog and in the company’s exhibit at the San Francisco museum.
Williams said that the company is committed to sharing African-American’s stories from the past to the present, and supported the film “Red Tails,” about the Tuskegee Airmen as well as a nationwide black history tour.
Nevertheless, Harris said Robison deserves to be recognized with his own commercial.
“That’s why I’m not gonna let Wells Fargo off the hook,” he said.