- NAME: Paul Robeson
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Actor, Football Player, Lawyer, Singer
- BIRTH DATE: April 09, 1898
- DEATH DATE: January 23, 1976
- Did You Know?: Actor, singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson was once considered for a U.S. vice presidential spot on Henry A. Wallace's 1948 Progressive Party ticket.
- Did You Know?: An heirloom tomato variety originating in Russia is named after actor, athlete and civil rights activist Paul Robeson, who enjoyed and spoke highly of Russian culture.
- Did You Know?: Paul Robeson was conversant in many different languages.
- EDUCATION: Rutgers University, Columbia University Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Princeton, New Jersey
- PLACE OF DEATH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Full Name: Paul Leroy Robeson
- AKA: Paul Robeson
Best Known For
Paul Robeson was an acclaimed 20th century performer known for productions like The Emperor Jones and Othello. He was also an international activist.
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He supported Pan-Africanism, sang for Loyalist soldiers during Spain's civil war, took part in anti-Nazi demonstrations and performed for Allied forces during WWII. He also visited the Soviet Union several times during the mid-1930s, taken by much of its culture and ideas.
Back in the United States,
he once again received accolades for his stage work in the 1943 Broadway production of Othello. Yet McCarthyism and Cold War paranoia was on the bound. Robeson found himself contending with government officials looking to silence a voice who spoke out eloquently against racism, and had political ties that could be vilified. Robeson was labeled a communist, and was barred by the State Department from renewing his passport in 1950 to travel abroad for engagements. Despite his immense popularity, he was blacklisted from domestic concert venues, recording labels and film studios.
Robeson published his biography, Here I Stand, in 1958, the same year that he won the right to have his passport reinstated. Robeson again traveled internationally and received a number of accolades for his work, but damage had been done, as he suffered from debilitating depression and related health problems. Robeson and his family returned to the United States in 1963. After Eslanda's death in 1965, the artist lived with his sister. Robeson died from a stroke on January 23, 1976, at the age of 77, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In recent years, some efforts have been made by various industries to recognize Robeson's legacy after a period of silence about his achievements. Several biographies have been written on the artist, and he was inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2007, Criterion released Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist, a box set containing several of his films, as well as a documentary and booklet on his life.
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