Paul Robeson

955 WordsOct 24, 20054 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…show more content…
It was greeted with the largest audience response since Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds." During the 1940s, Robeson continued to perform and speak out against racism in the U.S. and for peace among nations. As a passionate believer in international cooperation, Robeson protested the growing cold war hostilities and worked tirelessly for friendship and respect between the U.S. and the USSR. In 1945, he headed an organization that challenged President Truman to support an anti-lynching law. In the late 1940s, when dissent was scarcely tolerated in the U.S., Robeson openly questioned why African Americans should fight in the army of a government that tolerated violent racism. Because of his outspokenness, he was accused by the Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of being a Communist. Robeson saw this claim as an outright attack on the democratic rights of the many people like himself who work for friendship with other nations, and equal rights for all people. This accusation nearly ended his career. Eighty of his concerts were canceled, and in 1949 two outdoor concerts in Peekskill, N.Y. were attacked by white mobs while state police stood by complacently. In response, Robeson declared, "I going to sing wherever the people want me to sing... and I won't be frightened by crosses burning in Peekskill or anywhere else." In 1950, the U.S. government revoked Robeson's passport, leading to an

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