“I feel any negro if you were honest, would have to say that even in our democracy at present that he is never any one second unconscious of the fact that he is a black American or colored American. He can never be unconscious of it in any part of the United States.” Paul Robeson on the Pacifica Network in 1958.
Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was an American statesmen and artist who spoke out against colonialism, imperialism, and the rights of the oppressed working class globally. Robeson played football, sang, performed around the world, practiced law and much more over the course of his remarkable career.
The son of a slave, Paul Robeson was the third black graduate of Rutgers University. Firm just like his voice he stood with conviction on his beliefs and the bonds he made throughout the global community. He stood for the working class in every nation he visited. Robeson stood solid honorably unmalleable all his days.
Paul Robeson and his socially impactful career touched far and wide. I first took note of the outspoken bass baritone when I heard Old Man River as a child. Then I observed on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University the theatre name for Paul Robeson. Then a plaque in Wales, followed by a mountain in Russia, my travels introduced me to the black community’s very own Renaissance man. I was mesmerized by the voice and the message. I made the pilgrimage to West Philly, PA to visit his final home. Check back in March for details on the Paul Robeson House.
“Bodies all aching and wracked with pain
Tote that barge and lift that bale
You get a little drunk and you land in jail
I get weary and so sick of trying
I’m tired of living, but I’m feared of dying
And Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along”
Paul Robeson, Jerome Kern, Oscar Ii Hammerstein