Paul Robeson

Essays on His Life and Legacy


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About the Book

Paul Robeson was born April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of an escaped slave. He rose to unparalleled heights as an athlete, actor, singer, and activist, and was arguably the most prominent African American from the 1920s through the 1950s. This work is a compilation of 18 essays written by scholars and activists that were presented at a one-day conference held at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus on February 28, 1998, to honor Robeson’s life and legacy. The essays discuss his significance as a singer, his political activism, his efforts to achieve solidarity between African Americans and Jews, the important role played by his wife, Eslanda Goode Robeson, in his struggles, his founding of the Freedom newspaper during the Korean War, his contemporary relevance, and the way conservative Americans turned against him, refused to discuss him in the press, and tried to silence his voice.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Retired history professor from Long Island University, Joseph Dorinson lives in Floral Park, New York.
Also a professor of history, William Pencak teaches at Pennsylvania State University. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joseph Dorinson and William Pencak
Foreword by Henry Foner
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2004 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2163-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0458-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword     1

Preface     5

Introduction     7

THE EARLY YEARS Childhood, Sports, and College

African Americans: Childhood in Slavery, Childlike in Freedom…and Paul Robeson as Child and Parent     13

Paul Robeson: Rutgers Phenomenon     31

Something to Cheer About: Paul Robeson, Athlete     65

Robeson the Athlete: A Remembrance     76

The Political Struggle

A Man of His Times: Paul Robeson and the Press     81

Out of the Shadows: The Political Writings of Eslanda Goode Robeson     98

Paul Robeson and Jackie Robinson: Athletes and Activists at Armageddon     113

Paul Robeson, Peekskill, and the Red Menace     120

Remembering Peekskill, USA, 1949     130

Paul Robeson, Freedom Newspaper, and the Korean War     133

Music, Film, Theater

A Dream Betrayed: Paul Robeson and the British Film Industry     145

Paul Robeson and Classical Music     152

“A Symbol, Representing My People”: Marian Anderson’s Way, Not Opposed to Paul Robeson’s     160

“You Know Who I Am!” Paul Robeson’s Ballad for Americans and the Paradox of the Double V in American Popular Front Culture     167

When Paul Robeson Sang to Me     180


“Americans Through Their Labor”: Paul Robeson’s Vision of Cultural and Economic Democracy     187

Paul Robeson: Icon or Hero?     194

Expanding the African-American Studies Curriculum: “Paul Robeson: An American Life”     213

Paul     219

About the Contributors     221

Index     223