Deceased November 1, 2013
In some respects, Robin Romano was one of Amherst's men of mystery: even people who'd known him both at Horace Mann and at Amherst have described him as someone who, as Dave Schriger puts it, “was already focused on things more mature and important” while the rest of us were absorbed with student concerns. Some of us actually met Robin only after graduating -- and then discovered what a brilliant, driven, idealistic, witty, and influential man had been quietly among us.
As a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and educator, Robin dedicated his life to exposing the most alarming abuses on earth. His investigations into slavery, child labor, human trafficking, and other abominations earned him awards and respect; his courage, dedication, and wit earned him strong and lasting friendships. His films, including The Harvest/La Cosecha, The Dark Side of Chocolate, Stolen Childhoods, and others, prodded numerous industries to take measures to strengthen child labor standards. If the Children's Act for Responsible Employment (HR 3564) eventually passes Congress, Robin's advocacy will have brought substantial improvements to the lives of America's farmworkers, particularly its youngest.
Friends remember him as a tireless worker on behalf of the disadvantaged; a perfectionist who 2would stop at nothing to get an essential image, telling a story that needed to be heard; and a courageous speaker of truth to power who repeatedly put himself at risk, wearing hidden cameras into places where discovery would mean his certain death. He could also be a relentless practical joker, phoning friends in the guise of a Russian spy or a tax auditor. As serious as his calling was, he never ceased to approach it as a happy warrior.
Complications of Lyme disease took him from us this past November 1, 2013. He is mourned throughout the worlds of cinema, philanthropy, and human-rights work, as well as by his Amherst friends, to whom he offered an example of a true life of consequence: one dedicated to showing how every human life is consequential.
Written by Bill Millard ’80 and Trei Massie ’80