Paul Robeson surely wasn’t the first intellectual to be entranced by Communism; he sure as hell wasn’t the last. His apartment is not open to the public, Itinerary Home | List of Sites | Main Map | Learn More | Next Site. He deserves 80. Paul Robeson was an American singer, actor, civil rights activist, and college football player. Nevertheless, during a tour in 1940, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was the only major Los Angeles hotel willing to accommodate him due to his race, at an exorbitant rate and registered under an assumed na… A proud Stalin-backer, he was destroyed by a system that chewed him up and spit him out once he went from American dream to socialist inconvenience. Robeson died on Jan. 23, 1976 at the age of 77, largely in seclusion. There’s much to consider when we talk about Paul Robeson. Paul Leroy Robeson was born on April 9, 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey. Like what you’re reading? By the time he was 25, he had passed the New York state bar and had become a major Broadway presence; by the time he was in his forties, he had become a worldwide superstar, behind international musical tours and a functionally-emeritus portrayal of the title character in Othello. Does this athlete also hold a law degree? And on top of it all: He was an unabashed, unashamed, hyper-intelligent liberal, who assumed an active role in the Civil Rights struggle, and whose career suffered massively and unjustly as he brought massive attention to his causes. Robeson began receiving death threats from the Ku Klux Klan while campaigning for the Progressive Party candidate in the 1948 presidential election. There’s not only a lack of bravery about it, but a lack of bravura—there’s little to no arm-twisting or name calling or necessary bile (Steph Curry turned up big the other night, though, straight-up implying that Trump was an “ass”, and many props to Colin Kaepernick). Robeson and his family lived in an apartment in this 13 story apartment building from 1939-1941, upon his return from living and performing in Europe. He was exceptionally famous for his political views on anti-imperialism, communism, and the United States Government. A KKK-led riot canceled the concert but Robeson returned the following week with 25,000 supporters. He became a supporter of communism and was blacklisted during the 1950s. Robeson, one of the truest American international stars, was brutally blacklisted in a masterstroke of racial manipulation: HUAC trotted out Jackie Robinson to excoriate Robeson before the committee. What happened. Robeson was a founder of the American Crusade Against Lynching, and traveled to the deep south to spread his message. Paul Robeson could not live with the hypocrisy and phoniness that would have followed him for life if he didn’t assume political and social positions. A "human wall" protected Robeson while he sang, though afterwards many of the concert goers were ambushed and beaten while local police and state troopers stood by. It is important to bear in mind that Robeson’s frank and powerful participation in the Civil Rights movement predated the mainstream movement that we learn about in grade school. We agree to only ever use your information to send you Citizen news, updates, and offers. In his waning years, he’d return to the states after a functional exile to participate in the Civil Rights movement as an elder statesman, just as the protests were gaining traction. Paul Robeson, celebrated American singer, actor, and black activist. Paul Robeson’s mural on Chestnut Street in West Philly is one of the best in this city. He was also an international activist. Let’s talk about Paul Robeson, what we can learn from him and what he can do for us now. When he publicly opposed the Cold War, even the national secretary of the NAACP questioned his loyalty as an American. In 1934, he visited the Soviet Union, where he felt fully accepted as a black artist. Foner, Philip S. Paul Robeson Speaks-Writings, Speeches, Interviews 1918-1947. Robeson was born in New Jersey, the son of a former plantation slave turned Presbyterian minister. What it means. To keep it simple, Robeson was a proud Stalin-backer, especially before the Cold War had reached fever pitch—though he did put distance between himself and the dictator in his later years. Robeson had performed in Red Russia, and felt uncommonly welcome there; he was certainly enticed by Communist ideology. But, like many people worth writing about, he led a life not only of unapproachable, inimitable success, but of contradiction and no small amount of mistakes. Despite his war efforts, he was labeled "subversive" by McCarthyites, who were wary of his earlier trip to the Soviet Union, his support of the 1947 St. Louis picketing against segregation of black actors and a Panama effort to organize the mostly-black Panamanian workers. How about an athlete who has won 15 varsity letters in four different sports? This was his greatest strength, and one of the primary reasons we remember him. Concert halls closed their doors to him, and his records began to disappear from stores.