Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson

Infobox actor
bgcolour =
name = Paul Robeson

imagesize = 200px
caption = Paul Robeson in June 1942, photo by Gordon Parks
birthname = Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson
birthdate = birth date|1898|4|9|mf=y
location = Princeton, New Jersey
deathdate = death date and age|1976|1|23|1898|4|9
deathplace = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
othername =
yearsactive =
spouse =
homepage =
notable role =
academyawards =
emmyawards =
tonyawards =

Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was a multi-lingual American actor, athlete, Basso cantante concert singer, writer, civil rights activist, fellow traveler, Spingarn Medal winner, and Lenin Peace Prize laureate.

Early life and education

Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey. His father, William Drew Robeson I, ran away from a North Carolina plantation where he had been born a slave; he later graduated from Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) and became a church minister.Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration, [ A Brief Biography] ] His mother, Maria Louisa Bustill, came from an abolitionist Quaker family. Paul's four siblings included: William Drew Robeson, a physician who practiced in Washington, D.C.; Benjamin Robeson, a minister; Reeve Robeson (called Reed); and Marian Robeson, who lived in Philadelphia. In 1915, Paul graduated with honors from Somerville High School in Somerville, New Jersey, where he excelled academically and participated in singing, acting, and athletics.


Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers University. He was the third African-American student accepted at Rutgers, and was the only black student during his time on campus. Robeson was one of three classmates at Rutgers accepted into Phi Beta Kappa and one of four students selected in 1919 to Cap and Skull, Rutgers' honor society. He was honored with the Phi Beta Kappa Key in his third, Junior, year. [ [ Paul Robeson Campus Center ] ] He was also the class valedictorian, exhorting his classmates to "catch a new vision." [ [ Time Magazine, 1998] .] Rutgers-Newark honored him by naming their student-life campus center, [ [ Rutgers-Newark: The State University of New Jersey ] ] [ [ Paul Robeson Campus Center ] ] and art gallery after him. [ [ Paul Robeson Galleries ] ]

A noted athlete, Robeson earned altogether fifteen varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball, and track and field. For his accomplishments as an end in football, he was twice named a first-team All-American in (1917 and 1918). During scrimmages as Robeson tried out for the football team, he faced savage physical punishment, for instance, when a senior member of the team crushed Robeson's hand with a cleated foot, tearing off fingernails. He bore the abuse to prove his worth. ["Robeson in Depth," Bay Area Paul Robeson CentennialCommittee, ] The football coach, Walter Camp, later described him as "the greatest to ever trot the gridiron." [ [ College Football News, Top 100 Players.] ] Later in his life, however, when the United States government stopped him from traveling outside the country, his name was retroactively struck from the roster of the 1917 and 1918 college All-America football teams.cite news |first=Susan |last=Robeson |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Paul Robeson |url= |quote=He was among the first to concertize on behalf of the American war effort and he became one of the top American actors and singers of that era. ... From 1948 - when he was at the pinnacle of fame and fortune - until 1958, Robeson was silenced because his exercise of free speech did not please forces in the American Government of that time. His passport was revoked from 1950 until 1958, when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional; at the same time he was barred from virtually every concert hall and recording studio in America - a ban that lasted a decade. Robeson records disappeared from the stores, and, quite astonishingly, his name was struck from the roster of the 1917 and 1918 college All-America football teams. |publisher=New York Times |date=September 26, 1982 |accessdate=2007-06-21 ]

Columbia Law School

After graduation from Rutgers, Robeson moved to Harlem and entered Columbia, Between 1920 and 1923, Robeson helped pay his way through law school by working as an athlete and a performer. He played professional football in the American Professional Football Association (later called the National Football League) with the Akron Pros and Milwaukee Badgers. He served as assistant football coach at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he was initiated into the Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity for African Americans.32 He also played for the St. Christopher Club traveling basketball team during their 1918-1919 season, alongside future Basketball Hall of Fame members Clarence "Fats" Jenkins and James “Pappy” Ricks, and former Hampton Institute star center Charles Bradford. [ [ The St. Christopher Club (aka The Red and Black Machine, The St. C's ) Harlem, New York City] ] In 1922, he starred in the play "Taboo" in New York and in London. [ [ Paul Robeson Honored On New Black Heritage Series Commemorative Postage Stamp ] ] He graduated from Columbia in 1923, in the same law school class as William O. Douglas — later a United States Supreme Court Justice — and was hired at the law firm of Stotesbury and Miner in New York City; Robeson quit after a white secretary refused to take dictation from him because of the color of his skin. Robeson later studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.


He married Eslanda Cardozo Goode and moved to New York (?) in August 1921. She headed the pathology laboratory at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Cardozo Goode was related to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo. Robeson and his wife had one child, Paul Robeson II, born in 1927.


Robeson found fame as an actor and singing star with his fine bass voice. He was one of the few true basses in American music, with his beautiful and powerful voice descending as low as C below the bass clef. In addition to his stage performances, his renditions of old spirituals were acclaimed; Robeson was the first to bring them to the concert stage.

His first roles were in 1922 playing Simon in "Simon the Cyrenian" at the Harlem YMCA and Jim in "Taboo" at the Sam Harris Theater in Harlem. "Taboo" was later re-named "Vodoo" . He was acclaimed for his 1924 performance in the title role of Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" — originally performed, also with great success, by Charles Gilpin in 1920. He was also noted in his early career for his performance in "All God's Chillun Got Wings" in which he portrayed the black husband of an abusive white woman who, resenting her husband's skin color, destroys his promising career as a lawyer. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=All God's Chillun |url=,9171,717940,00.html |quote=The dramatic miscegenation will shortly be enacted in the Provincetown Playhouse, Manhattan, by a brilliant Negro named Paul Robeson and a brilliant white named Mary Blair. The producers are the Provincetown Players, headed by Eugene O'Neill, dramatist; Robert Edmund Jones, artist, and Kenneth Macgowan, author. Many white people do not like the idea. Neither do many black. |publisher=Time (magazine) |date=March 17, 1924 |accessdate=2007-06-21 ] His earliest surviving film is 1924's "Body and Soul".

Next he played Crown in the stage version of DuBose Heyward's novel "Porgy", which provided the basis for George and Ira Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess". Then, in 1930, he starred in the title role in Shakespeare's "Othello" in England, when no US company would employ him for the part. He reprised the role in New York in 1943, and toured the U.S. with it until 1945. His Broadway run of "Othello" is still, as of 2006, the longest of any Shakespeare play. He won the Spingarn Medal in 1945 for this performance. Uta Hagen played Desdemona, and José Ferrer played Iago. He played the role of Joe, which was written for him, in the 1928 London production of "Show Boat", and repeated his performance in the 1932 Broadway revival of the show, the 1936 film version, and a 1940 Los Angeles stage production. His rendition of "Ol' Man River" is widely considered the definitive version of the song. He also played the role of Toussaint L'Ouverture in a 1936 play by C.L.R. James alongside the actor Robert Adams. Robeson's repertoire of African-American folk songs helped bring these to much wider attention both inside the US and abroad — in particular his rendition of "Go Down Moses." Robeson also became interested in the folk music of the world; he came to be conversant with 20 languages, fluent or near fluent in 12. His standard repertoire after the 1920s included songs in many languages (e.g., Chinese, Russian, Yiddish, German, etc.).

Between 1925 and 1942 Robeson appeared in eleven films — all but four of them British productions — after he and his wife moved to England in the late 1920s. He remained there, with long periods away on singing tours, until the outbreak of World War II. At the height of his popularity in the 1930s, Robeson became a major box office attraction in British films such as "Song of Freedom" and "The Proud Valley". Briefly returning to the US he reprised his title role in Dudley Murphy's film version of Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" in 1933. The 1936 Universal film "Show Boat" was a box office hit for Robeson, and the most frequently shown and highly acclaimed of all his films. His performance of "Ol' Man River" for this film was particularly notable. He was Umbopa in the 1937 version of "King Solomon's Mines". In films such as "Jericho" and "Proud Valley", he portrayed strong black American male leading roles. Robeson left Britain during the Second World War. It was later discovered that his name was in The Black Book, a Nazi document listing thousands of people living in Britain who were to be arrested following the successful completion of Operation Sealion.

International travels

Robeson toured Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War and was photographed with members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, including its black commander Oliver Law. His repertoire included "Peat Bog Soldiers," which was popular with International Brigades volunteers and veterans alike. Robeson was among the first performers to sing in concert on behalf of the U.S. troops during World War II.

Robeson's association with Wales began in 1928 while he was performing in London in the musical "Show Boat". There, he met a group of unemployed miners who had taken part in a "hunger march" from South Wales to protest their situation. During the 1930s, Robeson made several visits to Welsh mining areas, including performances in Cardiff, Neath and Aberdare. [ [ Paul Robeson ] ] In 1934, he performed in Caernarfon to benefit the victims of an industrial accident at Gresford colliery, near Wrexham, in which 264 miners were killed. [] In 1938, he performed in front of an audience of 7,000 at the Welsh International Brigades National Memorial in Mountain Ash, to commemorate the 33 men from Wales killed while fighting on the side of the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, he appeared in "The Proud Valley", playing a black laborer who arrives in the Rhondda and wins the hearts of the local people.

Robeson remains a celebrated figure in Wales. The exhibit "Let Paul Robeson Sing!" was unveiled in Cardiff in 2001, going on to tour several Welsh towns and cities. [ [ Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - National Library of Wales : Error ] ] A number of Welsh artists have celebrated Robeson's life: The Manic Street Preachers' song "Let Robeson Sing" appears on the album "Know Your Enemy". The band also covered "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?"— the spiritual sung by Robeson as part of his 1957 telephone performance to the Miners' Eisteddfod in Porthcawl. The play "Paul Robeson Knew My Father" by Greg Cullen, set in the Rhondda during the 1950s, features a character with a childhood obsession for Robeson's music and films. [ [ Greg Cullen website ] ] Martyn Joseph's song "Proud Valley Boy" on his 2005 album "Deep Blue" is also based on Robeson's Welsh connections.

Political activism, politics, communism, and the Cold War

On his frequent trips to Western Europe and the Soviet Union he was highly critical of the conditions experienced by black Americans, especially in the segregated southern states. Robeson was an activist against lynching. He pressed President Harry S. Truman aggressively on the issue in 1946, and said black people would fight back to defend themselves if the government did not. Also in 1946, he founded the American Crusade Against Lynching. Robeson‘s advocacy for the Soviet Union was controversial and led to his becoming a target by political critics.

Civil rights

Robeson spoke out against racist conditions experienced by Asian and Black Americans; he condemned segregation in both the North and the South. In particular, Robeson spoke out against lynching and, in 1946, he founded the American Crusade Against Lynching.

In 1948, Robeson was active in the presidential campaign to elect Progressive Party candidate Henry A. Wallace, who had served as Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President, and Secretary of Commerce in the administrations of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the campaign trail in June of that year, Robeson went to Georgia, where he sang before "overflow audiences... in Negro churches in Atlanta and Macon." ["The Atlanta Journal" 6/21/48]

At a Bill of Rights Conference in New York City in July 1949, a resolution was introduced calling for the freeing all 19 Trotskyists convicted in 1941 under the provisions of the Smith Act, being used at that time against the leaders of the CPUSA. Robeson gave a speech denouncing this idea, saying that the imprisoned Socialist Workers Party members were “the allies of Fascism who want to destroy the new democracies of the world. Let’s not get confused, they are the enemies of the working class. Would you give civil rights to the Ku Klux Klan?" The resolution was defeated and Robeson's speech is credited with its defeat. Robeson biographer Martin Duberman commented that this "was not Robeson's finest hour."

Robeson became an increasingly unpopular figure with the right during the Cold War and, in 1949, a planned concert by him in Peekskill, New York to benefit the Civil Rights Congress resulted in the Peekskill Riots. The original August 27 concert was postponed after concert-goers were attacked by an angry mob carrying baseball bats. The event was rescheduled for September 4 and was attended by 20,000 people but the aftermath of the concert was marred by violence when a miles-long gauntlet of hostile locals, veterans and outside agitators threw rocks through the windshields of cars and buses, injuring 140 people.

The Council on African Affairs

Paul Robeson's tireless involvement in dispelling the myths about the continent of Africa is a key aspect to his legacy as well the reason for his relentless persecution by Hoover's FBI and the Right Wing of the US. A large aspect of Robeson's persecution was due not necessarily to his support of the Soviet Union, which was a common cause célèbre of many well known artists at the time of the Red scare, but to his fervent dedication to freeing Africa from the shackles of Colonialist exploitation.

Paul Robeson's founding in 1937, along with Max Yergan, The Council on African Affairs saw the first major US organization created whose focus was on providing pertinent and up to date information about Africa across the United States, particularly to African Americans. During WWII , the Council functioned as a broad based coalition that included a variety of activists, some of whom were associated with the Communist Party. Probably the most successful campaign of the Council was for South African famine relief in 1946. Robeson along with Essie became an honorary members of the West African Students' Union in London during the 1930s, becoming acquainted with African students Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta future presidents of Ghana and Kenya, respectively.The vilification of Robeson's work for African liberation reached its zenith when Hoover with the help of the NAACP, arranged for a ghost written leaflet to be printed and distributed in Africa called

The Soviet Union, Stalin, and communism

After traveling to Europe for several years in the early 1930s, Robeson was extended and accepted an offer to visit the Soviet Union. While there, Robeson was given the red carpet treatment, according to biographer Martin Duberman, including trips to the theatre, banquets, and other attractions. Robeson became captivated with this new society and its leadership, declaring "that the country was entirely free of racial prejudice and that Afro-American spiritual music resonated to Russian folk traditions. “Here, for the first time in my life ... I walk in full human dignity.”

Through his writings and speeches, Robeson went on to defend the foreign and domestic policies of the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. During the Soviet purges, Robeson allegedly told a "Daily Worker" reporter that “from what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!” [ [ "I Am at Home" Says Robeson at Reception in Soviet Union] , Daily Worker, January 15, 1935] After the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Robeson proclaimed during a speech at the Paris World Peace Congress in 1949 that “It is unthinkable that American Negroes will go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations... against a country [the Soviet Union] which in one generation has raised our people to the full dignity of mankind.” Sugar Ray Robinson responded to this by saying that although he did not know Robeson he would “punch him in the mouth” if he met him. [ An American Hero, The American Spectator, April 11, 2007] Even while many former left wing supporters of the Soviet Union learned of the atrocities being committed there and began publicly denouncing their former affiliations, Robeson held firm.

During his lifetime, Robeson always denied that he was a Communist Party member. But after his death, at the occasion of his 100th birthday in 1988, the American Communist Party issued a pamphlet "Paul Robeson: An American Communist," by CP chairman Gus Hall, in which the Party acknowledged that Robeson had been a secret member. Hall wrote: "My own most precious moments with Paul were when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA."Fact|date=May 2008

In March 1950, NBC cancelled Robeson’s scheduled appearance on former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s television program, "Today with Mrs. Roosevelt". A spokesman for NBC declared that Robeson would never appear on NBC. Press releases of the Civil Rights Congress objected that "censorship of Mr. Robeson's appearance on TV is a crude attempt to silence the outstanding spokesman for the Negro people in their fight for civil and human rights" and that our "basic democratic rights are under attack under the smoke-screen of anti-Communism." Protesters picketed NBC offices and protests arrived from numerous public figures, organizations and others. [ [,%201950 Paul Robeson Chronology] ]

Because of the controversy surrounding him, Paul Robeson's recordings and films lost mainstream distribution. During the height of the Cold War it became increasingly difficult in the United States to hear Robeson sing on commercial radio, or to see any of his films, including the acclaimed 1936 version of "Show Boat".

East Germany in 1983 to honor Paul Robeson.] In 1952, Robeson was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. In April, 1953 shortly after Joseph Stalin's death he wrote a eulogy entitled "To You Beloved Comrade", [ [ "To You Beloved Comrade”] ] in which he praised Stalin's "deep humanity," "wise understanding," and dedication to peaceful co-existence with all the peoples of the world calling him “wise and good”.

Itzik Feffer

On July 8, 1943, at the largest pro-Soviet rally ever held in the United States, an event organized by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and chaired by Albert Einstein, Robeson met Solomon Mikhoels, the popular actor and director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater and the Yiddish poet Itzik Feffer. Mikhoels headed the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in what was then the Soviet Union; Feffer was his second. After the rally, Robeson and his wife Essie entertained Feffer and Mikhoels.

Six years later, in June 1949, during the 150th anniversary celebration of the birth of Alexander Pushkin, Robeson visited the Soviet Union to sing in concert. Concerned about the welfare of Jewish artists, Robeson insisted to Soviet officials that he meet with Feffer.Stewart, pg. 225.] Forced to communicate through hand gestures and notes because the room was bugged, Feffer indicated that Mikhoels had been murdered in 1948 by the secret police. Robeson responded publicly during his concert in Tchaikovsky Hall on June 14 by paying tribute to his friends Feffer and Mikhoels and by singing the Vilna Partisan song "Zog Nit Keynmol" in both Russian and Yiddish to honor them. [] [ [ Paul Robeson Live Concert in Moscow at Tchaikovsky Hall ] ] Upon returning to the United States, however, Robeson denied the widespread persecution of Jews stating that he "met Jewish people all over the place... I heard no word about it." [ [ Paul Robeson: A Flawed Martyr] , New Politics; Summer 1998] .

Robeson is, however, often criticized for continuing to support the Soviet Union despite being aware of Soviet anti-Semitism. According to Joshua Rubenstein's book, "Stalin's Secret Pogrom," Robeson justified his silence on the grounds that any public criticism of the USSR would reinforce the authority of anti-Soviet elements in the United States which, he believed, wanted a preemptive war against the Soviet Union. [ [] .] A number of biographies of Robeson, including his son's, suggest that another major reason for his silence was that he felt that criticism of the Soviet Union by him would only serve to shore up reactionary elements in the U.S., the same elements that helped block anti-lynching legislation, and maintained a racial climate in the South that allowed lynching to continue.

HUAC and FBI investigations

His political statements and activism, including sympathies expressed towards the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin in particular, rumors of membership in the American Communist Party, [There is no evidence that Robeson ever was a member of the Communist Party. According to records released under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI believed that Robeson might have joined the Party under the name "John Thomas" but "his Communist Party membership book number is not known." Robeson's biographer, Martin Duberman, concludes that "he was never a member of CPUSA, never a functionary, never a participant in its daily bureaucratic operations." (Duberman, pp. 301, 418, 440.)] and his frequent trips to the Soviet Union, led to his being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover. Robeson was under surveillance by the FBI from 1941 to 1974, when the Bureau decided that "no further investigation [of Robeson] was warranted." [ [ FBI File on Paul Robeson] ]

In 1946, Robeson was questioned by the Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California. When he was asked whether he was a member of the Communist Party, Robeson replied that he might as well have been asked whether he was a registered Democrat or Republican — in the United States the Communist Party was equally legal. But, he added, he was not a Communist. [Duberman, pp. 307-308]

Ten years later, in 1956, Robeson was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) after he refused to sign an affidavit affirming that he was not a Communist. In response to questions concerning his alleged Communist Party membership, Robeson reminded the Committee that the Communist Party was a legal party and invited its members to join him in the voting booth before he invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to respond. Robeson lambasted Committee members on civil rights issues concerning African-Americans. When one senator asked him why he hadn't remained in the Soviet Union, he replied, "My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?". Shortly thereafter he stated "I am here because I am opposing the neo-fascist cause, which I see arising in these committees.". (Audio recording of Paul Robeson's testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, June 12, 1956) At one point he remarked, "you are the nonpatriots, and you are the un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves." [Duberman, pp. 439-442] In making these statements, he was the only major figure to testify before HUAC who directly attacked the committee, and turned their own accusations against them.

Passport revocation

In 1950 the State Department denied Robeson a passport and issued a "stop notice" at all ports, effectively confining him to the United States. When Robeson and his lawyers met with officials at the State Department on August 23, 1950 and asked why it was "detrimental to the interests of the United States Government" for him to travel abroad, they were told that "his frequent criticism of the treatment of blacks in the United States should not be aired in foreign countries"—it was a "family affair."Duberman, p. 389] When Robeson inquired about being re-issued a passport, the State Department declined, citing Robeson’s refusal to sign a statement guaranteeing not to give any speeches while outside the U.S. Robeson's passport revocation was similar to that of other individuals that the State Department deemed pro-Soviet, including the writers Howard Fast and Albert E. Kahn, W.E.B. Du Bois and Richard Morford, who headed the National Council of America-Soviet Friendship.

In a symbolic act of defiance against the travel ban, labor unions in the U.S. and Canada organized a concert at the International Peace Arch on the border between Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia on May 18, 1952. [Duberman, p. 400] Paul Robeson stood on the back of a flat bed truck on the American side of the U.S.-Canada border and performed a concert for a crowd on the Canadian side, variously estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000 people. Robeson returned to perform a second concert at the Peace Arch in 1953, [Duberman p. 411] and over the next two years two further concerts were scheduled. (Officially, the travel ban did "not" prevent Robeson from entering Canada, as travel across the Canada-United States border did not require a passport, but the State Department directly intervened to block Robeson from travelling to Canada.)

In 1956, Robeson left the United States for the first time since the travel ban was imposed, performing concerts in two Canadian cities, Sudbury and Toronto, in March of that year. The travel ban ended in 1958 when Robeson’s passport was returned to him.

Later life

Robeson's autobiography, "Here I Stand", was published by a British publishing company in 1958.

Also that year, Robeson's 60th birthday was celebrated in several US cities and twenty-seven countries across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as in the Soviet Union. [ [,%201958 Paul Robeson Chronology] .] In particular, in the USSR he visited Young Pioneer camp Artek with his wife Eslanda and performed in concert there on September 6 1958. [ [ The International Children Center Artek Timeline - the 1950s] ] In May 1958 his passport was finally restored and he was able to travel again, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in "Kent vs. Dulles", that the Secretary of State had no right to deny a passport or require any citizen to sign an affidavit because of his political beliefs. [Duberman, p. 463] As part of his "comeback", he gave two sold-out recitals that month in Carnegie Hall, which were released on LP and later on CD. They would be his only stereo recordings.

In the late 1950s, Robeson moved to the United Kingdom and traveled extensively. He spent five years touring the world, playing Othello again in Tony Richardson's 1959 production at Stratford-upon-Avon, and singing throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. On his visit to England he befriended actor Andrew Faulds and inspired him to take up a career in politics.cite news | last =White | first =Michael | title =Obituary: Andrew Faulds | work =The Guardian | date =1 June 2000 | url =,1441,563445,00.html | accessdate =2007-08-11 ] He had health problems during his travels, and spent some time in Russian and East German hospitals.

In 1961, Robeson attempted suicide in a Moscow hotel room. His son claimed this was precipitated by a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent who placed some synthetic hallucinogens into his drink under a covert program called MK Ultra. [ [ "Did the U.S. Government Drug Paul Robeson?" "Democracy Now", July 6, 1999] ] Paul Robeson returned to live in the United States in 1963. For the remainder of his life he was plagued by ill health, and his appearances were relatively few.

Over 3,000 people gathered in Carnegie Hall to salute Robeson's 75th birthday, including Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Pete Seeger, Angela Davis, Dolores Huerta, Dizzy Gillespie, Odetta, Leon Bibb, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte (who also produced the show), James Earl Jones, Zero Mostel, Roscoe Lee Browne, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Coretta Scott King; birthday greetings arrived from President Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania, Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica, President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Indira Gandhi, Arthur Ashe, Linus Pauling, Judge George W. Crockett, Leonard Bernstein and the African National Congress. Robeson was unable to attend due to illness, but a taped message from him was played which said in part, "Though I have not been able to be active for several years, I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace and brotherhood." [ [,%201973 Paul Robeson Chronology] ]

In 1976, at the age of 77, Paul Robeson died of a stroke in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he had been living with his sister. He was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Paul Robeson Dead at 77; Singer, Actor and Activist; Paul Robeson, the Singer, Actor and Activist, Is Dead |url= |quote=Paul Robeson, the singer, actor and black activist, died yesterday at the age of 77 in Philadelphia. |publisher=New York Times |date=January 24, 1976, Saturday |accessdate=2007-06-21 ] [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Died |url=,9171,945524,00.html |quote=Paul Robeson, 77, superbly talented and ultimately tragic singer, actor and civil rights leader who won a world fame known to few blacks of his generation and spent his last years sick, half-forgotten and, in Coretta Scott King's words, "buried alive"; following a stroke; in Philadelphia. |publisher=Time (magazine) |date=February 2, 1976 |accessdate=2007-06-21 ]

Beginning in 1978, Paul Robeson's films were finally shown on American television, with "Show Boat" making its cable television debut in 1983. In recent years, Robeson's silent films have appeared on Turner Classic Movies.


*Robeson has a Football stadium named after him in East Orange, New Jersey. The East Orange High Jaguars play at Paul Robeson Stadium. This stadium also holds the annual Paul Robeson Classic where the best players from the East side of the Iron Hills Conference play against the best players from the West. [ [ Paul Robeson Athletic Stadium: Profile & Events | East Orange, NJ - Eventful ] ]
* Robeson sang in and was conversant in more than 20 languages, and at one time carried enough clout to be considered for a vice presidential spot on Henry A. Wallace's 1948 Progressive Party ticket.
*One of the post-graduate accommodation buildings at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London is named after him.
*He won numerous awards from such organizations as the U.S. Treasury Dept. (War Bonds), the NAACP (Spingarn Medal), Broadway (Donaldson award; equivalent to the Tony today)
*He was the first African-American to demand and receive the right to final approval of films (though only effectively in three films), and portrayed strong black male American roles 15 years before Sidney Poitier (albeit mostly in British films)
*As a two-time All-American, Robeson is among the greatest college football players of his era and won 15 varsity letters at Rutgers.
*Led anti-lynching delegation to President Harry S. Truman, and another delegation to lift the ban on black players in Major League Baseball.
*His 1943 "Othello" was seen by over half a million viewers on Broadway or on tour.
*Hailed by Langston Hughes as the "truly racial voice" ("Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," 1926)
* The Hetzel Union Building at Penn State University contains the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.
* Three buildings on the Rutgers University campus are named in his honor, including the library at Rutgers Camden Campus. [ [ Paul Robeson Library at the Camden Campus of Rutgers University.] ]
* The Paul Robeson House [ [ Paul Robeson House :: - The Official Visitor Site for Greater Philadelphia ] ] in West Philadelphia, where he lived with his sister from 1966 until his death, is a museum.
* In 1943 Robeson recorded the English version of the Soviet Union's anthem.
* In 1963 the German Democratic Republic (GDR) established the Paul Robeson Choir.
* In 1965 the Paul Robeson Archive was established at the Academy of Arts in Berlin.
* In 1978, the United Nations honored Robeson for speaking out against apartheid in South Africa.
* In 1978, a school in Leipzig (GDR) and a street in East Berlin were named after him. Both have retained the name since the reunification of Germany.
* In 1983, the East German government honored him with a postage stamp.
* In 1988, he was posthumously inducted into the Rutgers University sports Hall of Fame.
* In 1995, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
* In 1998, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
* In 2002, a memorial concert was held at [ Peace Arch International Park] in honor of the 50th anniversary of his May 18th, 1952 protest concert for 40,000 people at the U.S. Canada border.
* In 2004, the United States Postal Service honored Robeson with a stamp in the Black Heritage Series.Paul Robeson honored on Postage Stamp, [ Paul Robeson, 27th stamp in Black Heritage Stamp series] ]
* In 2007, the Criterion Collection issued a DVD Box Set "Paul Robeson: Portrait of an Artist". "Time" magazine's Richard Corliss named it one of the Top 10 DVDs of the year, ranking it at #2. [ [,30583,1686204_1686244_1692076,00.html Corliss, Richard; Top 10 DVDs;] ]
*As of March 2008, the site notes that a feature film project focusing on Robeson and Einstein is under development.
*The new Arts Council Of Princeton Building on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey, is named The Paul Robeson Center.


* An heirloom tomato variety, originating in Russia, is named "Paul Robeson."PlantFiles: Detailed information on the Paul Robeson tomato, [ PlantFiles: Paul Robeson tomato] ]
* In 2006, British author Angela Campion used Paul Robeson as a character in her novel about Black Hollywood, "A Darker Shade of Blue". In a somewhat controversial move, she pairs Robeson as longtime lover of her heroine, Sara Newsome, but recreates Robeson's electrifying defiance of the HUAC, quoting his actual testimony.


* "Body and Soul" (1924)
* "Camille" (1926)
* "Borderline" (1930)
* "The Emperor Jones" (1933)
* "Sanders of the River" (1935)
* "Show Boat" (1936)
* "Song of Freedom" (1936)
* "Big Fella" (1937)
* "King Solomon's Mines" (1937)
* "Jericho" (1937)
* "The Proud Valley" (1940)
* "Native Land" (1942)
* "Tales of Manhattan" (1942)


Further reading

* Balaji, Murali, "The Professor and the Pupil: The Politics and Friendship of W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson" (Nation Books, 2007) ISBN 1568583559
* Boyle, Sheila Tully, and Andrew Bunie, "Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement" ISBN 1-55849-149-X
* Du Bois, Shirley Graham, "Paul Robeson, Citizen of the World." (Julian Messner, June 1, 1971) ISBN 0-671-32464-0; (Greenwood Pub Group, January 1, 1972) ISBN 0-86543-468-9; (Africa World Pr, January 1, 1998), ISBN 0-86543-469-7; (Africa World Pr, April 1, 1998), ISBN 0-8371-6055-3
* Duberman, Martin Bauml. "Paul Robeson" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1988). 804 pages. New Press; Reissue edition (May 1, 1995). ISBN 1-56584-288-X.
* Dorinson, Joseph and William Pencak with foreword by Henry Foner. "Paul Robeson: Essays on His Life and Legacy" (Oct 15, 2004) ISBN 0-7864-1153-8;
* Foner, Philip S. "Paul Robeson Speaks: Writings, Speeches, and Interviews, a Centennial Celebration". Citadel Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 1982). 644 pages. ISBN 0-8065-0815-9.
* Holmes, Burnham, "Paul Robeson: A Voice of Struggle (Heinemann Library, September 1, 1994) ISBN 0-8114-2381-6
* Larsen, Rebecca. "Paul Robeson: Hero Before His Time" (Franklin Watts, September 1, 1989), ISBN 0-531-10779-5
* McKissack, Pat, Fredrick McKissack and Michael David Biegel (illustrator). "Paul Robeson: A Voice to Remember". Library (Enslow Pub Inc, May 1, 2001), ISBN 0-89490-310-1
* Nazel, Joseph. "Paul Robeson: Biography of a Proud Man." (Holloway House Pub Co, August 1, 1980), ISBN 0-87067-652-0
* Robeson, Paul. "Here I Stand". Beacon Press (1958), (1971 edition with Preface by Lloyd L. Brown), (January 1, 1998). 160 pages. ISBN 0-8070-6445-9.
* Robeson, Paul. "Here I Stand". DVD. Director: St. Claire Bourne. Winstar Home Entertainment. DVD. (August 24, 1999). Run Time: 117 minutes.
*Robeson Jr., Paul. The Undiscovered Paul Robeson , An Artist's Journey, 1898-1939.
* Reiner, Carl, "How Paul Robeson Saved My Life and Other Mostly Happy Stories" (Cliff Street Books, October 1, 1999), Cassette/Spoken Word (Dove Entertainment Inc, October 1, 1999). ISBN 0-06-019451-0
* Stewart, Jeffrey C. (editor); Paul Robeson Cultural Center; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum (corporate author). "Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen". Hardcover (Rutgers Univ Pr, April 1, 1998) ISBN 0-8135-2510-1, Paperback (Rutgers Univ Pr, April 1, 1998) ISBN 0-8135-2511-X
* Stuckey, Sterling, "I Want to Be African: Paul Robeson and the Ends of Nationalist Theory and Practice, 1919-1945" (Univ of California Center for Afro, June 1, 1976) ISBN 0-934934-15-0
* Wright, David K., "Paul Robeson: Actor, Singer, Political Activist" (Enslow Pub Inc, September 1, 1998) ISBN 0-89490-944-4
*Robeson Jr., Paul. "How My Father Last Met Itzik Feffer." "Jewish Currents". November 1981.
* Rappaport, Louis. "Stalin's War Against the Jews: The Doctors Plot & The Soviet Solution", Free Press (October 1, 1990) ISBN 0-02-925821-9

External links

* [ The Paul Robeson Foundation, Inc.]
* [ Paul Robeson digital archive at Rutgers University]
* [ Rutgers Celebrates the Paul Robeson Stamp]
* [ Thoughts on Winning the Stalin Peace Prize]
* [ "I Am at Home", at a Reception in the Soviet Union]
* [ Paul Robeson Awards]
* [ The Paul Robeson Collection]
* [ Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, June 12, 1956]
* [ Paul Robeson Russian recordings 1940s, on iTUNES Digital Library]
* [ Watch the Feature Film "King Solomon's Mines"]
* [ Download the Feature Film "King Solomon's Mines"]
* [ The Freedom Archives]
* [ American Masters: Paul Robeson]
* [ "Did the CIA Drug Paul Robeson? - a Look at the Secret Program Mk Ultra" Part 1] . 23:16 minutes. Amy Goodman interviews Paul Robeson, Jr., Dr. Eric Olson, Martin Lee. Democracy Now!. Thursday, July 1st, 1999. Retrieved May 12, 2005.
* [" Robeson/Hollywood Star" NBC Evening News for Monday, Apr 09, 1979, David Brinkley reporting (2 min segment)] (from the Vanderbilt Television News Archives)
*imdb name|id=0732079|name=Paul Robeson
* [ Findagrave: Paul Robeson]
* [ Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Rutgers University]
* [ Paul Robeson Cultural Center]
* [ The Bay Area Paul Robeson Committee]
* [ A biography]
* [ Discography]
* [ Paul Robeson singing the English version] of the U.S.S.R. anthem
* [ freedomarchives]
* [ BBC site celebrating Robeson with contributions by Tony Benn]
*Paul Robeson High School, a 4 year (9th -12th grades) business and technology high school in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood

NAME= Robeson, Paul
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Robeson, Paul LeRoy Bustill
SHORT DESCRIPTION=actor, athlete, Basso cantante concert singer, writer, civil rights activist
DATE OF BIRTH= 1898-4-9
PLACE OF BIRTH= Princeton, New Jersey
DATE OF DEATH= 1976-1-23
PLACE OF DEATH= Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Paul Robeson — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Paul Robeson. Foto de 1942 Paul Robeson (Princeton, 9 de abril de 1898 23 de enero de 1976) fue un actor políglota, atleta, cantante de conciertos, bajo profundo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Paul Robeson — Gordon Parks: Paul Robeson, Juni 1942 (FSA/OWISammlung) Paul LeRoy Robeson [ˈɹoʊ̯bsn̩] (* 9. April 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey; † 23. Januar 1976 in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Paul Robeson — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Robeson. Paul Robeson en 1942 Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson (né à Princeton, New Jersey, le 9  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Paul Robeson — noun United States bass singer and an outspoken critic of racism and proponent of socialism (1898 1976) • Syn: ↑Robeson, ↑Paul Bustill Robeson • Instance Hypernyms: ↑singer, ↑vocalist, ↑vocalizer, ↑vocaliser, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Paul Robeson — ➡ Robeson * * * …   Universalium

  • Paul Robeson House — may refer to: *Paul Robeson House (London) *Paul Robeson House (Philadelphia)ee also*Paul Robeson Home …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Robeson Home — Infobox nrhp name = Paul Robeson Residence nrhp type = nhl caption = location = 555 Edgecombe Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New YorkHarris, Bill; One Thousand New York Buildings , 1st Edition; Black Dog and Leventhal. 2002. ISBN 1 57912 443… …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist — Filmdaten Originaltitel Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist Produktionsland USA …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Paul Robeson Award — An award bestowed by the Paul Robeson Citation Award Committee of the Actors Equity Association. [ award.asp] Recipients 1974 Paul Robeson 1975 Ossie Davis Ruby Dee 1976 Lillian Hellman… …   Wikipedia

  • Robeson — may refer to:People:*George M. Robeson *Kenneth Robeson *Paul RobesonOther:*Robeson Channel *Robeson County, North Carolina *Robeson Township, Pennsylvania …   Wikipedia