Essay on Paul Robeson

969 Words Nov 5th, 2005 4 Pages
Paul Robeson was a famous African American athlete, singer, actor and advocate for the civil rights of people around the world. He rose to prominence in a time when segregation was legal in America and black people were being lynched by white mobs, especially in the South.
Born on April 9, 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey, Paul Robeson was the youngest of five children. His father was a runaway slave who went on to graduate from Lincoln University, and his mother came from a family of Quakers who worked for the abolition of slavery. His family was familiar with hardship and the determination to rise above it. His own life was no less challenging.
In 1915, Paul won a four-year academic scholarship to Rutgers University. In spite of
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Paul noted that his travels had taught him that racism was not as virulent in Europe as it was in the United States. At home, it was difficult to find restaurants that would serve him; theaters in New York would only seat blacks in the upper balconies and his performances were often surrounded with threats or outright harassment. In London, on the other hand, Robeson's opening night performance of Emperor Jones brought the audience to its feet with cheers for twelve encores.
Paul Robeson used his deep baritone voice to promote black spirituals, to share the cultures of other countries and to benefit the social movements of his time. He sang for peace and justice in 25 languages throughout the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union and the Third World. Robeson became known as a citizen of the world, as comfortable with the people of Moscow and Nairobi as with the people of Harlem. Among his friends he counted future African leader Jomo Kenyatta, India's Nehru, historian W. E. B. DuBois, anarchist Emma Goldman and writers James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. In 1933, Robeson donated the proceeds of All God's Chillun to Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler's Germany. At a 1937 rally for anti-fascist forces fighting in the Spanish Civil War he declared, "The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no

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