Paul Robeson is a towering figure in 20th century Amerian history. His accomplishments were so numerous and varied it strains belief they belong to one man.
Robeson’s father was born into slavery and later became a Presbyterian minister. His mother was from a prominent Quaker family. He attended Rutgers College on an academic scholarship and was a two-time All-American football player. He would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He attended Columbia Law School while playing in the NFL.
Robeson work for a New York law firm, but his legal career was stifled by the rampant racism of the era. He pursued an acting career and became an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance. His theater work included starring roles in Eugene O’Neil’s “Emperor Jones” (1925) and the London production of “Show Boat” (1928).
One of the most popular concert singers of all time, Robeson performed and recorded spirituals, American and European folk songs, popular songs of the day, and poetry.
His work on civil liberties brought him many admirers as well as enemies. He counted amount his friends and acquaintances such notable figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Pablo Neruda, and Albert Einstein.
"The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative."
The duo brought Black artistry to the American stage.
Political conscience street poet and singer.
Born in the Mississippi Delta.
Born in New Orleans with roots in ragtime and the blues.
European tradition reimagined by African American artists.
The dominant form of American dance music for over a decade.
Black musical tradition is a part of its core.
The progeny of spirituals and cousin to the blues.
A blend of African-American oral and musical traditions.