Black Deaf Business Spotlight

Emmanuel “Bud “ Robinson Jr.

Ella Jean Robinson, Black Deaf Business Owners


This month, we are recognizing the black deaf-owned business several ran over the years. There is a spotlight in West Virginia. Emmanuel “Bud” (1936) and Ella Jean (1941) are deaf siblings who were born to Emmanuel F. Robinson Sr. and Vivian Thomas (deaf) in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia.


Both attended the West Virginia School for the Deaf. You can remember a notable figure who also attended that school was Ernest Hairston. (source: https://cacwv.org/speaker-series/)


In the state of West Virginia, Bud and Ella Jean are recognized as the first known black deaf business owners, Bud was first, while Ella Jean was 2nd. Bud ran a barber shop from 1956 to 2013 before he retired after 57 years. Ella Jean ran a beauty salon as a beautician in 1989 then took over her brother’s in 2013.


Bud started getting involved in Barber career after practicing in Parkersburg, West Virginia after his education at deaf school. Then got into business ownership and ran until his retirement. While he owned a barber shop, he worked as a U. S. Postal mail distribution clerk.


Over the years, Ella Jean received the West Virginia Minority Development Center award and the West Virginia executive director’s award.


Source of the news when Bud closed his shop: https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/community-news/2013/01/robinson-celebrates-57-years-of-barbering/


Source of the news mentioning Ella Jean and featured picture of her who had the business next door to Kay Wesley, a shop owner: https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/14/fade-away-not-yet-barber-marks-70th-birthday-at-sh/


There were others to recognize as well like Adam Metrarch from Norwalk, Connecticut who ran a family fishing business, Hume LePrince Battiste ran a rubber and tire business, and several more!


If you know more, please mention to us and we might do a spotlight on that person or more in the next article! Contact the committee through historicalarchives@dcabda.org.


’22 - ’24 DCABDA Administration

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