Paul Robeson was a true Renaissance man. He was a star athlete, a classically trained singer, a Shakespearean actor, a fierce civil rights activist, a cultural scholar, and an American lawyer.
Paul Robeson shattered stereotypes and broke barriers. He attended Rutgers College on an academic scholarship. He graduated Rutgers as his class valedictorian and as a two-time All-American football player. He continued his education by earning a law degree from Columbia Law School.
Although Robeson was excelling at law and football, he had a passion for theater. In the mid-1920s, Robeson began to captivate people with his booming voice and powerful stage presence as characters Othello and Emperor Jones.
Robeson went on to use his platform to speak out against injustices like racism, colonialism, and fascism. He even refused to perform in segregated venues.
During the 1940s, he was considered a threat to American democracy after his years of activism. McCarthyism smeared him as a communist, which blacklisted and silenced him for some time. This negatively affected his career within the United States and abroad.
Paul Robeson was full of talent, a champion of humanity, and a beacon of hope. He was a testament to the power of one’s voice, reminding us that art can be a vessel for change.
Want To Learn More?
- Read Paul Robeson’s autobiography “Here I Stand”
- Watch the PBS American Masters documentary on Paul Robeson here
Remember, history is about the stories we tell, the voices we listen to, and the lessons we learn from the past.
Written with lots of care,
Your Internet BFF
P.S. Share your favorite Paul Robeson song or featured play in the comments below.