Black HIStory: Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson

Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson (b. April 9, 1898 – d. January 23, 1976)

New Jersey native Paul Robeson was, and still is, the prime example of a Renaissance Man. Robeson not only sang (He was famous for singing “Ol’ Man River” in the film Showboat“.), he played football at an All-American and Professional level, acted in many plays and films, graduated from Columbia Law School and was a premier player in the Civil Rights Movement and International Activism.

“His roles in both the US and British film industries were some of the first parts ever created that displayed dignity and respect for the African-American film actor, paving the way for Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.”

As a result of his activism he became a target of the American witch hunts known as the Red Scare and Robeson’s strides and accomplishments were virtually erased from the annals of U.S. history. “Despite persecution and limited activity resulting from ailing health in his later years, Paul Robeson remained, throughout his life, committed to socialism and anti-colonialism as a means to world peace and was unapologetic about his political views.

Present day advocates and historians of Paul Robeson’s legacy have worked successfully to restore his name to many history books and sports records, while honoring his memory globally with posthumous awards and recognitions.”

Paul Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River”:


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