Bigraphy: Bill Bojangles Robinson, his life, times and influence on the world of tap.

Essay by Lizzi514College, UndergraduateA+, December 2002

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Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson

Bill Robinson was known as the pioneer of tap dancing. He paved the way so others might follow in his footsteps. Robinson changed the course of tapping forever, simply by listening to the music in his soul. Some viewed him as a hero and a leader. Others viewed him as a great entertainer. But there were those who knew him as Mr. Bojangles, a man who would dance and smile. "He talked of life, he talked of life, He laugh-slapped his leg a step. He said the name, Bojangles, and he danced a lick, he jumped up high, He clicked his heels. He let go a laugh, he let go a laugh, I heard someone ask him please Mr. Bojangles ... dance!" (Mr.Bojangles).

"Mr. Bojangles", or Luther Robinson was born on May 25th, 1878 in Richmond Virginia (Congress). His parents were Maxwell, a machine shop worker, and Marina, a choir singer.

He also had a younger brother who was named Bill. Luther preferred his brother's name to his own so he did what any big brother would do; he took the name by the force of his fists and from then on became known as Bill Robinson (Kathleen). Due to a tragic accident when Bill was very young he lost both of his parents. This caused he and his younger brother to be put into an orphanage. They were later sent to live with his sharp-tongued grandmother, Bedillia Robinson. A former slave and a strong Baptist, Bedillia had no interest in bringing up two boys (Harlem). To earn money, Bill would dance in the streets and saloons for pennies. He would also he shine shoes and sell newspapers. Bedillia also forbade dancing in her home, which was finally the reason that drove Bill to run away...