Roosevelt Robinson was born in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1941. He earned a theology degree from Southwestern Christian College in Texas before moving to Oregon in 1962. While working at the National Biscuit Company (now known as Nabisco Inc.), he met Beverlee Foreman; they married in 1963 and later had two children. Robinson also served as minister at a north Portland church and earned a sociology degree from the University of Portland in 1970. After he and Beverlee Foreman divorced that same year, Robinson gave up his plans to become a minister and instead pursued a career in law. In 1976, he graduated from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. He spent a few years in private practice before joining the Multnomah County district attorney's office in 1978. In 1987, he was appointed to the Oregon Parole Board. In 1990, he was appointed as a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge, later winning election to that seat. He died in 2004.