Paul Robeson: Renaissance Man of the 20th Century:
Key, clockwise beginning upper left corner: Paul Robeson, All-American football player at Rutgers University; Robeson, Phi Beta Kappa laureate, Rutgers, 1919; Robeson as Othello in New York production, 1943; Robeson leading Anti-Lynching Campaign in front of statue of Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C., 1946; Robeson leading Civil Rights protest in front of the White House, Washington, D.C., 1948; and the cover of The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, Vol. I, by Paul Robeson, Jr., published 2001
A significant portion of class filled in the context of Robeson’s life by discussing what you were asked about in the Daily: information about underlying reasons for the persecution of thousands of artists, teachers (and by the way, scientists such as Albert Einstein as well) by the US Congress during the McCarthy period; the Spanish Civil War; the Cold War; and more. To what extend was this information new to you? Do you think you might be more inclined to learn more about contextual historical or present-day events and ideas in the future to further either your academic or personal pursuit of ideas?
What emotional reactions did you have in this class? What do you find most compelling or surprising about Paul Robeson’s life? What does it say about our country that Paul Robeson, who in my opinion, was one of the most important Americans who ever lived, has been erased from American history? Are you able to make any connections to material we’ve covered so far this semester? Any and all other comments are welcome. Please made your comments as personal as you are able.
Here’s one more question: Think of the artists you know something about, alive or dead, American of from any other country – from any time in history. What artist or artists would you place alongside Paul Robeson and feel confident saying that they were in some way equals in terms of what they accomplished creatively and in what they gave to a people or a culture? This is simply a question I’ve been asking myself recently and I am interested to see what you come up with. I’d be especially interested if you first have a chance to discuss this with someone else: a friend, a parent or other relative, another teacher – anyone.
This post will remain open until the Sunday at about 5 pm.