The District of Columbia is my hometown. I was born into this world at 3:49 a.m. on April 25, 1966 in Providence Hospital. Chartered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, Providence Hospital today stands as the oldest continuously operating hospital in the Nation’s Capital. For three years after my birth, we lived on Minnesota Avenue in southeast Washington. While my sister Cheryl (born one year earlier) and I are first generation Washingtonians, my parents hail from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Braddock is a borough located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, ten miles above the mouth of the Monongahela River. The town is named for General Edward Braddock (1695-1755), a British soldier and commander-in-chief for North America during the actions at the start of the French and Indian War. My mother was raised in North Braddock; my father on the other side of the railroad tracks, below Braddock Avenue, in a section called “the bottom.”
In 1970, we moved to Edenville Drive – in District Heights, Maryland – a suburb of Washington. I grew up in Prince George’s County – named for Prince George of Denmark, consort of Queen Anne. For the first half of my kindergarten year, I walked to John H. Bayne Elementary School, just a few blocks from home. The school district in our subdivision of Fairfield Knolls was, for the second half of that school year, redrawn and we were then bused to Ritchie Elementary School.
In 1973, my father opened Sugar’s Liquors. It was there, on Rhode Island Avenue, in northeast Washington, that I got my first real urban work experience – on weekends in the family business!
On April 10, 1976, I was baptized into the Christian faith at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in northeast Washington, just a few blocks from RFK Stadium.
When I was coming up, the state of Maryland required all workers to be at least fifteen-and-a-half years of age before obtaining a work permit. When I turned 15, I volunteered during the summer with the American Red Cross, as a clerk in the admissions office at Malcolm Grow USAF Medical Center on Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs. The following summer, I took my first paying job, working as a landscaper for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
As a senior at Central Senior High School in St. Pleasant, I took English and an art class in the morning, and headed off to Prince George’s Community College for an afternoon computer programming class. During the second semester of senior year, I participated in the U.S. Stay In School Program, through which I was employed in the afternoons as an office assistant at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
While pursuing an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland, I worked part-time in the evenings as a medical claims examiner for Blue Cross Blue-Shield of the National Capital Area.
I began covering local government for the Prince George’s County paper in my early twenties. As a print reporter, I got my first real taste of politics, writing about elected officials from the state capital in Annapolis. It wasn’t too long before I was also selling commentary and opinion pieces to The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Washington Afro-American, and The Washington Informer newspapers.
At age 21, I began working as a production intern at WETA TV 26 – a Washington PBS affiliate. It was there I met Sheila Banks, then host of Metro Week in Review, and co-host of This Week in Black Entertainment with Donnie Simpson at BET. When my internship at PBS ended, Sheila brought me to BET, to continue working on her show there. I concluded my TV apprenticeship in the newsroom of WRC TV 4 – the Washington NBC affiliate.
In November of 1988, I came to work for Jamie Foster Brown as an editorial assistant at SiSTER2SiSTER magazine. In February of 1989, I accepted a position as host and producer of a radio talk show – On Track – produced by the Washington Urban League (where I served as director of communications) and broadcast on Washington’s WPGC 95.5 FM radio station. In 1991, I began serving as a public relations specialist for the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland. In 1992, I signed on as a media relations specialist for Catholic Charities USA.
For 16 years I lived in Bethesda, Maryland. I first moved there on April 5, 1996 – Good Friday – when I left my childhood neighborhood in Forestville (it was changed from District Heights), to be closer to Discovery Channel, where I worked, then, as an associate producer. The name, Bethesda, is a corruption of the Hebrew “Bethsaida” (Beth-sah-eed-a), a term that means “house of healing” and a biblical place of salutary waters. The Aramaic words “Beth Hesda” mean “house of mercy.”
In 1994, I began freelancing in the Discovery Productions Unit at Discovery Communications, Inc. Eight months later, I became a full-time production assistant in the Special Programming Unit. Two years (to the day) later, I was upped to associate producer. The following year, I became a producer for daytime programming at Discovery Channel, TLC, and Animal Planet. In 1999, I was promoted to executive producer of daytime programming for Discovery Networks. In 2002, I became an executive producer in Discovery’s prime-time production unit – a position I held until January of 2005.
I have published in Essence magazine twice: first in 1996, then again in 1998.
In February of 2008, I accepted a position as an executive in charge of production for TV One. In 2009, I won my first NAACP Image Award for “Roland Martin In Conversation: The Michelle Obama Interview” (Best News/Information Special). I left that position in January of 2010.
In February of 2010, I began hosting and producing The Robert Wesley Branch Show on BlogTalkRadio.com.
In January of 2013, I joined the Harpo Productions team as a consulting producer on Iyanla, Fix My Life for the OWN network. After three years and 40 episodes, I left that position in February of 2016.
These days, I live in a small coastal community on the eastern shore of Maryland, where I spend my days reading and researching, writing and radio hosting, cooking and tending my vegetable garden.