Robeson in 1942
Paul Leroy Robeson
April 9, 1898
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
January 23, 1976
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Rutgers College (1919)
Columbia Law School (1922)
|Occupation||Singer (spirituals, international folk, musicals, classical), actor, social activist, lawyer, athlete|
|Spouse(s)||Eslanda Robeson (1921–1965) (her death) 1 son|
|Children||Paul Robeson, Jr.|
Paul Leroy Robeson ( April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American singer and actor who became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. At Rutgers College, he was an outstanding football player, then had an international career in singing, as well as acting in theater and movies. He became politically involved in response to the Spanish Civil War, fascism, and social injustices. His advocacy of anti-imperialism, affiliation with communism, and criticism of the United States government caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Ill health forced him into retirement from his career. He remained until his death an advocate of the political stances he took.
Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers College, where he became a football All-American and the class valedictorian. He received his LL.B. from Columbia Law School, while playing in the National Football League (NFL). At Columbia, he sang and acted in off-campus productions; and, after graduating, he became a participant in the Harlem Renaissance with performances in The Emperor Jones and All God's Chillun Got Wings. Robeson initiated his international artistic résumé with a theatrical role in Great Britain, settling in London for the next several years with his wife Essie.
Robeson next appeared as Othello at the Savoy Theatre before becoming an international cinematic star through roles in Show Boat and Sanders of the River. He became increasingly attuned towards the sufferings of other cultures and peoples. Acting against advice, which warned of his economic ruin if he became politically active, he set aside his theatrical career to advocate the cause of the Republican forces of the Spanish Civil War. He then became active in the Council on African Affairs (CAA).
During McCarthyism. Due to his decision not to recant his public advocacy of pro-Soviet policies, he was denied a passport by the U.S. State Department, and his income, consequently, plummeted. He moved to Harlem and published a periodical critical of United States policies. His right to travel was eventually restored by Kent v. Dulles, but his health broke down. He retired and he lived out the remaining years of his life privately in Philadelphia.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Theatrical ascension and ideological transformation (1923–1939)
- 3 World War II, the Broadway Othello, Political Activism, and McCarthyism (1939–1957)
- 4 Later years (1958–1976)
- 5 Legacy and honors
- 6 Filmography
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1898, to Reverend William Drew Robeson and Maria Louisa Bustill. His mother was from a prominent Quaker family of mixed ancestry: African, Anglo-American, and Lenape. His father, William, whose family traced their ancestry to the Igbo people of present-day Nigeria, escaped from a plantation in his teens and eventually became the minister of Princeton's Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in 1881. Robeson had three brothers: William Drew, Jr. (born 1881), Reeve (born c. 1887), and Ben (born c. 1893); and one sister, Marian (born c. 1895).
In 1900, a disagreement between William and white financial supporters of Witherspoon arose with apparent racial undertones, which were prevalent in Princeton. William, who had the support of his entirely black congregation, resigned in 1901. The loss of his position forced him to work menial jobs. Three years later when Robeson was six, his mother, who was nearly blind, died in a house fire. Eventually, William became financially incapable of providing a house for himself and his children still living at home, Ben and Paul, so they moved into the attic of a store in Westfield, New Jersey.
William found a stable parsonage at the St. Thomas A. M. E. Zion in 1910, where Robeson would fill in for his father during sermons when he was called away. In 1912, Robeson attended Somerville High School, Somerville, New Jersey, where he performed in Julius Caesar, Othello, sang in the chorus, and excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. His athletic dominance elicited racial taunts which he ignored. Prior to his graduation, he won a statewide academic contest for a scholarship to Rutgers. He took a summer job as a waiter in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, where he befriended Fritz Pollard, later to be the first African-American coach in the National Football League.
Rutgers College (1915–1919)
In late 1915, Robeson became the third African-American student ever enrolled at Rutgers, and the only one at the time. He tried out for the Foster Sanford, decided he had overcome the provocation and announced that he had made the team.
Robeson joined the debate team and sang off-campus for spending money, and on-campus with the Glee Club informally, as membership required attending all-white mixers. He also joined the other collegiate athletic teams. As a sophomore, amidst Rutgers' sesquicentennial celebration, he was benched when a Southern team refused to take the field, because the Scarlet Knights had fielded a Negro, Robeson.
After a standout junior year of football, he was recognized in The Crisis for his athletic, academic, and singing talents. At what should have been a high point of his life, his father fell grievously ill. Robeson took the sole responsibility in caring for him, shuttling between Rutgers and Somerville. His father, who was the "glory of his boyhood years" soon died, and at Rutgers, Robeson expounded on the incongruity of African-Americans fighting to protect America in World War I and then, contemporaneously, being bereft of the same opportunities in the United States as whites.
He finished university with four annual oratorical triumphs and varsity letters in multiple sports. His play at end won him first-team All-American selection, in both his junior and senior years. Walter Camp considered him the greatest end ever. Academically, he was accepted into Phi Beta Kappa and Cap and Skull. His classmates recognized him by electing him class valedictorian. The Daily Targum published a poem featuring his achievements. In his valedictory speech, he exhorted his classmates to work for equality for all Americans.
Columbia Law School and marriage (1919–1923)
|Debuted in 1921 for the Akron Pros|
|Last played in 1922 for the Milwaukee Badgers|
Career highlights and awards
|First team All-American (1917, 1918)|
Career NFL statistics as of 1922
Robeson entered New York University School of Law in the fall of 1919. To support himself, he became an assistant football coach at Lincoln, where he joined the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. However, Robeson felt uncomfortable at NYU and moved to Harlem and transferred to Columbia Law School in February 1920. Already known in the black community for his singing, he was selected to perform at the dedication of the Harlem YWCA.
Robeson began dating Eslanda "Essie" Goode and after her coaxing, he gave his theatrical debut as Simon in Ridgely Torrence's Simon of Cyrene. After a year of courtship, they were married in August 1921.
He was recruited by Pollard to play for the NFL's  He then sang in a chorus in an Off-Broadway production of Shuffle Along before he joined Taboo in Britain. The play was adapted by Mrs. Patrick Campbell to highlight his singing. After the play ended, he befriended Lawrence Brown, a classically trained musician, before returning to Columbia while playing for the NFL's Milwaukee Badgers. He ended his football career after 1922, and months later, he graduated from law school.
Theatrical ascension and ideological transformation (1923–1939)
Harlem Renaissance (1923–1927)
Robeson worked briefly as a lawyer, but he renounced a career in law due to extant racism. Essie financially supported them and they frequented the social functions at the future Schomburg Center. In December, he landed the lead role of Jim in Eugene O'Neill's All God's Chillun Got Wings, which culminated with Jim metaphorically consummating his marriage with his white wife by symbolically emasculating himself. Chillun's opening was postponed while a nationwide debate occurred over its plot.
Chillun's delay led to a revival of The Emperor Jones with Robeson as Brutus, a role pioneered by Charles Sidney Gilpin. The role terrified and galvanized Robeson, as it was practically a 90-minute soliloquy. Reviews declared him an unequivocal success. Though arguably clouded by its controversial subject, his Jim in Chillun was less well received. He deflected criticism of its plot by writing that fate had drawn him to the "untrodden path" of drama and the true measure of a culture is in its artistic contributions, and the only true American culture was African-American.
The success of his acting placed him in elite social circles and his ascension to fame, which was forcefully aided by Essie, had occurred at a startling pace. Essie's ambition for Robeson was a startling dichotomy to his insouciance. She quit her job, became his agent, and negotiated his first movie role in a silent race film directed by Oscar Micheaux, Body and Soul. To support a charity for single mothers, he headlined a concert singing spirituals. He performed his repertoire of spirituals on the radio.
Lawrence Brown, who had become renowned while touring as a pianist with gospel singer Roland Hayes, stumbled upon Robeson in Harlem. The two ad-libbed a set of spirituals, with Robeson as lead and Brown as accompanist. This so enthralled them that they booked Provincetown Playhouse for a concert. The pair's rendition of African-American folk songs and spirituals was captivating, and Victor Records signed Robeson to a contract.
The Robesons went to London for a revival of Jones, before spending the rest of the fall on holiday on the French Riviera, socializing with Gertrude Stein and Claude McKay. Robeson and Brown performed a series of concert tours in America from January 1926 until May 1927.
Birth of his son (1927)
During a hiatus in New York, Robeson learned that Essie was several months pregnant. Paul Robeson, Jr. was born in November 1927 in New York, while Robeson and Brown toured Europe. Essie experienced complications from the birth, and by mid-December, her health had deteriorated dramatically. Ignoring Essie's objections, her mother wired Robeson and he immediately returned to her bedside. Essie completely recovered after a few months.
Show Boat, Othello, and marriage difficulties (1928–1932)
Robeson played "Joe" in the London production of the American musical Show Boat, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His rendition of "Ol' Man River" became the benchmark for all future performers of the song. Some black critics were not pleased with the play due to its usage of the word nigger. It was, nonetheless, immensely popular with white audiences. He was summoned for a Royal Command Performance at Buckingham Palace as Robeson was befriended by MPs from the House of Commons. Show Boat continued for 350 performances and, by 2001, it remained the Royal's most profitable venture. The Robesons bought a home in Hampstead. He reflected on his life in his diary and wrote that it was all part of a "higher plan" and "God watches over me and guides me. He's with me and lets me fight my own battles and hopes I'll win." However, an incident at the Savoy Grill, wherein he was refused seating, sparked him to issue a press release portraying the insult which subsequently became a matter of public debate.
Essie had learned early in their marriage that Robeson had been involved in extramarital affairs, but she tolerated them. However, when she discovered that he was having another affair, she unfavorably altered the characterization of him in his biography, and defamed him by describing him with "negative racial stereotypes". Despite her uncovering of this tryst, there was no public evidence that their relationship had soured. In early 1930, they both appeared in the experimental classic Borderline, and then returned to the West End for his starring role in Shakespeare's Othello, opposite Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona.
Robeson became the first black actor cast as Othello in Britain since Ira Aldridge. The production received mixed reviews which pointed out Robeson's "highly civilized quality [but lacking the] grand style." Robeson stated the best way to diminish the oppression African Americans faced was for his artistic work to be an example of what "men of my colour" could accomplish rather than to "be a propagandist and make speeches and write articles about what they call the Colour Question."
After Essie's discovery of Robeson's affair with Ashcroft, she decided to seek a divorce and they split up. Robeson returned to Broadway as Joe in the 1932 revival of Show Boat, to critical and popular acclaim. Subsequently, he received, with immense pride, an honorary master's degree from Rutgers. Thereabout, his former football coach, Foster Sanford, advised him that divorcing Essie and marrying Ashcroft would do irreparable damage to his reputation. Ashcroft and Robeson's relationship ended in 1932, following which Robeson and Essie reconciled, although their relationship was permanently scarred.
Ideological awakening (1933–1937)
Robeson played a theatrical role, virtually gratis, as Joe in "Chillun" in 1933 for several weeks before returning to the United States for a starring role in a motion picture, which was "a feat not repeated for more than two decades in the U.S." as Brutus in the film The Emperor Jones. His acting in "Jones" was well received and "Jones" became the first film starring an African American. On the film set, he rejected any slight to his dignity, despite the widespread Jim Crow atmosphere in the United States. Post-production, he returned to England and publicly criticized African Americans' rejection of their own culture. The New York Amsterdam News retorted that his comments had made a "jolly well [ass of himself]," however, he afterwards declared that he would reject any offers to perform European opera because the music had no connection to his heritage.
In early 1934, Robeson enrolled in the School of Oriental and African Studies to study over 20 different languages. His "sudden interest" in African history and its impact on culture coincided with his essay "I Want to be African", wherein he wrote of his desire to embrace his ancestry. He undertook the role of Bosambo in the movie Sanders of the River, which he felt would render a realistic view of colonial African culture. His friends in the anti-imperialism movement and association with British socialists led him to visit the Soviet Union. Robeson, Essie, and Marie Seton traveled to the Soviet Union on an invitation from Sergei Eisenstein in December 1934. A stopover in Berlin enlightened Robeson to the racism in Nazi Germany and, on his arrival in the Soviet Union, he expounded on race and what he felt in Moscow, where he said, "Here I am not a Negro but a human being for the first time in my life ... I walk in full human dignity."
When Sanders of the River was released in 1935, it made him an international movie star. However, the stereotypical portrayal of a colonial African was seen as embarrassing to his stature as an artist and damaging to his reputation. The Commissioner of Nigeria to London protested the film as slanderous to his country, and Robeson thereafter became more politically conscious of his roles. In early 1936 he considered himself primarily apolitical, but decided to send his son to school in the Soviet Union in order to shield him from racist attitudes. He then played the role of Toussaint Louverture in the eponymous play by C. L. R. James at the Westminster Theatre and appeared in the films Song of Freedom, Show Boat, Big Fella, My Song Goes Forth, and King Solomon's Mines. He was internationally recognized as the 10th most popular star in British cinema.
Spanish Civil War and the Moscow Trials (1937–1939)
Robeson believed that the struggle against fascism during the Spanish Civil War was a turning point in his life and transformed him into a political activist. In 1937, he used his concert performances to advocate the Republican cause and the war's refugees. He permanently modified his renditions of Ol' Man River from a tragic "song of resignation with a hint of protest implied" into a battle hymn of unwavering defiance. His business agent expressed concern about his political involvement, but Robeson overruled him and decided that contemporary events trumped commercialism. In Wales, he commemorated the Welsh killed while fighting for the Republicans, where he recorded a message which would become his epitaph: "The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative."
After an invitation from J. B. S. Haldane, he traveled to Spain in 1938 because he believed in the International Brigades's cause. He visited the battlefront and provided a morale boost to the Republicans at a time when their victory was unlikely. Back in England, he hosted Jawaharlal Nehru to support Indian independence, whereat Nehru expounded on imperialism's affiliation with Fascism. Robeson reevaluated the direction of his career and decided to focus his attention on utilizing his talents to bring attention to the ordeals of "common people". and subsequently he appeared in the pro-labor play Plant in the Sun by Herbert Marshall. With Max Yergan, and the CAA, Robeson became an advocate in the aspirations of African colonialists for political independence.
World War II, the Broadway Othello, Political Activism, and McCarthyism (1939–1957)
World War II and the Broadway Othello (1939–1945)World War II, Robeson returned to the United States and became America's "no.1 entertainer" with a radio broadcast of Ballad for Americans, and a role in The Proud Valley. Nevertheless during an ensuing tour, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was the only hotel willing to accommodate him due to his race, and he therefore dedicated two hours every afternoon sitting in the lobby "...to ensure that the next time Black[s] come through, they'll have a place to stay."
Furthermore, Native Land was labeled by the FBI as communist propaganda. After an appearance in Tales of Manhattan, a production that he felt was "very offensive to my people", he announced that he would no longer act in films because of the demeaning roles available to black[s].
Robeson participated in benefit concerts on behalf of the war effort and at a concert at the Polo Grounds, he met two emissaries from the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Solomon Mikhoels and Itzik Feffer Subsequently, Robeson reprised his role of Othello at the Shubert Theatre in 1943, and became the first African American to play the role with a white supporting cast on Broadway. Contemporaneously, he addressed a meeting with Kenesaw Mountain Landis in a failed attempt to convince him to admit black players to Major League Baseball. He toured North America with Othello until 1945, and subsequently, his political efforts with the CAA to get colonial powers to discontinue their exploitation of Africa were short-circuited by the United Nations.
Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations (1946–1949)
About this time, Robeson's belief that  Subsequently, he was summoned before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and when questioned about his affiliation with the Communist Party, he refused to answer, stating: "Some of the most brilliant and distinguished Americans are about to go to jail for the failure to answer that question, and I am going to join them, if necessary."
In 1948, Robeson was preeminent in Henry A. Wallace's bid for the President of the United States, during which Robeson traveled to the Deep South, at risk to his own life, to campaign for him. In the ensuing year, Robeson was forced to go overseas to work because his concert performances were canceled at the FBI's behest. While on tour, he spoke at the World Peace Council, whereat, his speech was publicly reported as equating America with a Fascist state—a depiction which he flatly denied. Nevertheless, the speech publicly attributed to him was a catalyst for his becoming an enemy of mainstream America. Robeson refused to subjugate himself to public criticism when he advocated in favor of twelve defendants, including his long-time friend, Benjamin J. Davis, Jr. charged during the Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders.
Robeson traveled to Moscow in June, and was unable to find Itzik Feffer. He let Soviet authorities know that he wanted to see him. Reluctant to lose Robeson as a propagandist for the Soviet Union, the Soviets brought Feffer from prison to him. Feffer told him that Mikhoels had been murdered, and he would be summarily executed. To protect the Soviet Union's reputation, and to keep the right wing of the United States from gaining the moral high ground, Robeson denied that any persecution existed in the Soviet Union, and kept the meeting secret for the rest of his life, except from his son.
In order to isolate Robeson politically, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) subpoenad Jackie Robinson to comment on Robeson's Paris speech. Robinson testified that Robeson's statements, "'if accurately reported', were silly'". Days later, the announcement of a concert headlined by Robeson in New York provoked the local press to decry the use of their community to support subversives and the Peekskill Riots ensued. Contemporaneously, criticism of Robeson became, even among liberals, de rigueur.
A book reviewed in early 1950 as "the most complete record on college football" failed to list Robeson as ever having played on the Rutgers team and as ever having been an All-American. Months later, NBC canceled Robeson's appearance on Eleanor Roosevelt's television program. Subsequently, the State Department (State) denied Robeson a passport to travel abroad and issued a "stop notice" at all ports because it believed that an isolated existence inside United States borders would not only afford him less freedom of expression but also avenge his "extreme advocacy on behalf of the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa." However when Robeson met with State and asked why he was denied a passport, he was told that "his frequent criticism of the treatment of blacks in the United States should not be aired in foreign countries".
In 1951, an article titled "Paul Robeson – the Lost Shepherd" was published in The Crisis although Paul Jr. suspected it was authored by Amsterdam News columnist Earl Brown. J. Edgar Hoover and the United States State Department arranged for the article to be printed and distributed in Africa in order to defame Robeson's reputation and reduce his and Communists' popularity in colonial countries. Another article by Wilkins denounced Robeson as well as the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) in terms consistent with the anti-Communist FBI propaganda.
On December 17, 1951, Robeson presented to the United Nations an anti-lynching petition, "We Charge Genocide". The document asserted that the United States federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was "guilty of genocide" under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention.
In 1952, Robeson was awarded the International Stalin Prize by the Soviet Union. Unable to travel to Moscow, he accepted the award in New York. In April 1953, shortly after Stalin's death, Robeson penned To You My Beloved Comrade, praising Stalin as dedicated to peace and a guide to the world: "Through his deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage." Robeson's opinion on the Soviet Union kept his passport out of reach and stopped his return to the entertainment industry and the civil rights movement. In his opinion, the Soviet Union was the guarantor of political balance in the world.
In a symbolic act of defiance against the travel ban, labor unions in the United States and Canada organized a concert at the International Peace Arch on the border between Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Robeson returned to perform a second concert at the Peace Arch in 1953, and over the next two years, two further concerts were scheduled. In this period, with the encouragement of his friend the Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan, Robeson recorded a number of radio concerts for supporters in Wales.
End of McCarthyism (1956–1957)
In 1956, Robeson was called before HUAC after he refused to sign an affidavit affirming that he was not a Communist. In his testimony, he invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to reveal his political affiliations. When he was asked why he had not remained in the Soviet Union because of his affinity with its political ideology, he replied that "because my father was a slave and my people died to build [the United States and], I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you and no fascist-minded people will drive me from it!" Robeson's passport was subsequently revoked. Campaigns were launched to protest the passport ban and the restriction of his right to travel over the next four years, but it was to no avail. Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalinism at the 1956 Party Congress silenced Robeson on Stalin, though Robeson continued to praise the Soviet Union. In 1956, after public pressure brought a one-time exemption to the travel ban, Robeson performed concerts in Canada in March. That year Robeson, along with close friend W. E. B. Du Bois, compared the anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary to the "same sort of people who overthrew the Spanish Republican Government" and supported the Soviet invasion and suppression of the revolt.
An appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States to reinstate his confiscated passport had been rejected, but over the telephone Robeson was able to sing to the 5,000 gathered there as he had earlier in the year to London. Due to the reaction to the promulgation of Robeson's political views, his recordings and films were removed from public distribution, and he was universally condemned in the U.S press. During the height of the Cold War, it became increasingly difficult in the United States to hear Robeson sing on commercial radio, buy his music or see his films.
Later years (1958–1976)
Comeback tours (1958–1960)
After the publication of Robeson's "manifesto-autobiography", Here I Stand, his passport was restored in June 1958 via Kent v. Dulles, and he embarked on a world tour using London as his base. In Moscow in August 1959, he received a tumultuous reception at the Lenin Stadium (Khabarovsk) where he sang classic Russian songs along with American standards. Robeson and Essie then flew to Yalta to rest and spend time with Nikita Khrushchev.
On October 11, 1959, Robeson took part in a service at St. Paul's Cathedral, the first black performer to sing there. On a trip to Moscow, Robeson experienced bouts of dizziness and heart problems and was hospitalized for two months while Essie was diagnosed with operable cancer. He recovered and returned to the UK to visit the National Eisteddfod.
During his run at the Royal Shakespeare Company playing Othello in Tony Richardson's 1959 production at Stratford-upon-Avon, he befriended actor Andrew Faulds, whose family hosted him in the nearby village of Shottery. In 1960, in what would prove to be his final concert performance in Great Britain, Robeson sang to raise money for the Movement for Colonial Freedom at the Royal Festival Hall.
In October 1960, Robeson embarked on a two-month concert tour of Australia and New Zealand with Essie, primarily to generate money, at the behest of Australian politician Bill Morrow. While in Sydney, he became the first major artist to perform at the construction site of the future Sydney Opera House. After appearing at the Brisbane Festival Hall, they went to Auckland where Robeson reaffirmed his support of Marxism, denounced the inequality faced by the Māori and efforts to denigrate their culture. Thereabouts, Robeson publicly stated "...the people of the lands of Socialism want peace dearly".
He was introduced to Faith Bandler who enlightened the Robesons to the deprivation of the Australian Aborigines. Robeson, consequently, became enraged and demanded the Australian government provide the Aborigines citizenship and equal rights. He attacked the view of the Aborigines as unsophisticated and uncultured, and declared, "there's no such thing as a backward human being, there is only a society which says they are backward."
Health breakdown (1961–1963)
Back in London, he planned his return to the United States to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, stopping off in Africa, China and Cuba along the way. Essie argued to stay in London, fearing that he'd be "killed" if he returned and would be "unable to make any money" due to harassment by the United States government. Robeson disagreed and made his own travel arrangements, stopping off in Moscow in March 1961.
During an uncharacteristically wild party in his Moscow hotel room, he locked himself in his bedroom and attempted suicide by cutting his wrists. Three days later, under Soviet medical care, he told his son that he felt extreme paranoia, thought that the walls of the room were moving and, overcome by a powerful sense of emptiness and depression, tried to take his own life.
Robeson stayed at the Barvikha Sanatorium until September 1961, when he left for London. There his depression reemerged, and after another period of recuperation in Moscow, he returned to London. Three days after arriving back, he became suicidal and suffered a panic attack while passing the Soviet Embassy. He was admitted to The Priory hospital, where he underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and was given heavy doses of drugs for nearly two years, with no accompanying psychotherapy.
During his treatment at the Priory, Robeson was being monitored by the British MI5. Both intelligence services were well aware of Robeson's suicidal state of mind. An FBI memo described Robeson's debilitated condition, remarking that his "death would be much publicized" and would be used for Communist propaganda, necessitating continued surveillance. Numerous memos advised that Robeson should be denied a passport renewal which would ostensibly jeopardize his fragile health and his recovery process.
In August 1963, disturbed about his treatment, friends had him transferred to the Buch Clinic in East Berlin. Given psychotherapy and less medication, his physicians found him still "completely without initiative" and they expressed "doubt and anger" about the "high level of barbiturates and ECT" that had been administered in London. He rapidly improved, though his doctor stressed that "what little is left of Paul's health must be quietly conserved."
In 1963, Robeson returned to the United States and for the remainder of his life lived in seclusion. He momentarily assumed a role in the civil rights movement, making a few major public appearances before falling seriously ill during a tour. Double pneumonia and a kidney blockage in 1965 nearly killed him.
Robeson was contacted by both Bayard Rustin and James L. Farmer, Jr. about the possibility of becoming involved with the mainstream of the Civil Rights movement. Because of Rustin's past anti-Communist stances, Robeson declined to meet with him. Robeson eventually met with Farmer, but because he was asked to denounce Communism and the Soviet Union in order to assume a place in the mainstream, Robeson adamantly declined.
After Essie died in December 1965, Robeson moved in with his son's family in New York City and in 1968 he settled at his sister's home in Philadelphia. Numerous celebrations were held in honor of Robeson over the next several years, including at public arenas that had previously shunned him, but he saw few visitors aside from close friends and gave few statements apart from messages to support current civil rights and international movements, feeling that his record "spoke for itself". At a Carnegie Hall tribute to mark his 75th birthday in 1973, he was unable to attend, but a taped message from him was played that said: "Though I have not been able to be active for several years, I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace and brotherhood."
Death, funeral, and public response
On January 23, 1976, following complications of a stroke, Robeson died in Philadelphia at the age of 77. He lay in state in Harlem and his funeral was held at his brother Ben's former parsonage, Mother AME Zion Church, where Bishop J. Clinton Hoggard performed the eulogy. His pall bearers included Harry Belafonte, Pollard, and others. He was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. According to biographer, Martin Duberman, contemporary post-mortem reflections on Robeson's life in "[t]he white [American] press...ignored the continuing inability of white America to tolerate a black maverick who refused to bend, ...downplayed the racist component central to his persecution [during his life]", as they "paid him gingerly respect and tipped their hat to him as a 'great American,'" while the black American press, "which had never, overall, been as hostile to Robeson [as the white American press had], opined that his life '...would always be a challenge to white and Black America.'"
Legacy and honors
Early in his life, he was one of the most influential participants in the Harlem Renaissance. Few people have ever achieved his level of excellence in athletics and academics. His achievements were all the more incredible given the barriers of racism that he had to surmount. Robeson brought Negro spirituals into the center of the American songbook. His theatrical performances have been recognized as the first to display dignity for black actors and pride in African heritage, and he was the first artist to refuse to play to live, segregated audiences.
After McCarthyism, [Robeson's stand] on anti-colonialism in the 1940s would never again have a voice in American politics, but the [African independence movements] of the late 1950s and 1960s would vindicate his anti-colonial [agenda].
Several public and private establishments he was associated with have been landmarked, or named after him. In 1978, his films were shown on American television for the first time, and his efforts to end Apartheid in South Africa were posthumously rewarded by the United Nations General Assembly. Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist won an Academy Award for best short documentary in 1980. In 1995, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame. In the centenary of his birth, which was commemorated around the world, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Robeson is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Beginning in 1978, Robeson's films were finally shown on American television, with Show Boat debuting on cable television in 1983.
As of 2011, the run of Othello starring Robeson was the longest-running production of a Shakespeare play ever staged on Broadway. He received a Donaldson Award for his performance. His Othello was characterised by Michael A. Morrison in 2011 as a high point in Shakespearean theatre in the 20th century.
Subsequently, he received the Spingarn medal from the NAACP. His starring role as an African American in the film "was a feat not repeated for more than two decades in the U.S. Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist won an Academy Award for best short documentary in 1980.
Robeson left Australia as a respected, albeit controversial, figure and his support for Aboriginal rights had a profound effect in Australia over the next decade.
Robeson archives exist at the Academy of Arts; Howard University, and the Schomburg Center. In 2010, Susan Robeson launched a project by Swansea University and the Welsh Assembly to create an online learning resource in her grandfather's memory.
Robeson connected his own life and history not only to his fellow Americans and to his people in the South, but to all the people of Africa and its diaspora whose lives had been fundamentally shaped by the same processes that had brought his ancestors to America. While a consensus definition of his legacy remains controversial, to deny his courage in the face of public and governmental pressure would be to defame his courage.
The U.S. Postal Service issued a 37-cent stamp honoring Robeson in 2004.
- Robeson, Paul Jr. (2001). "Motherless Child (1898–1919)". The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, An Artist's Journey, 1898–1939. New York: Wiley. p. 3. ; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 18, Duberman: 4–5.
- Brown: 5–6, 145–149; cf. Robeson, 2001: 4–5; Boyle and Bunie: 10–12.
- Robeson 2001: 4, 337–338; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 4, Duberman: 4, Brown: 9–10.
- Boyle and Bunie: 5–6, 14; cf. Robeson 2001: 4–5, Duberman: 4–6, Brown: 17, 26.
- Robeson 2001: 3; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 18, Brown: 21.
- Duberman: 6–7; cf. Robeson, 2001: 5–6, Boyle and Bunie: 18–20.
- Boyle and Bunie: 16–17; cf. Duberman: 12.
- Robeson 2001: 5–6; cf. Duberman: 6–9, Boyle and Bunie: 18–20, Brown: 26.
- Duberman: 9; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 21, Robeson 2001: 6–7, Brown: 28.
- Boyle and Bunie: 22–23; cf. Duberman: 8, Robeson 2001: 7–8, Brown: 25–29; Robeson 1958: 7.
- Robeson 2001: 11; cf. Duberman: 9, Boyle and Bunie: 27–29.
- Duberman: 9–10; cf. Brown: 39, Robeson 2001: 13–14.
- Robeson 2001: 17; cf. Duberman: 30, Brown: 46–47.
- Boyle and Bunie: 37–38; cf. Duberman: 12, Brown: 49–51.
- Duberman: 13–16; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 34–36, Brown: 43, 46, 48–49.
- Boyle and Bunie: 37–38; cf. Robeson: 16, Duberman: 13–16, Brown: 46–47.
- Boyle and Bunie: 41–42; cf. Brown: 54–55, Duberman: 17, Robeson 2001: 17–18; contra. The dispute is over whether it was a one-year or four-year scholarship. Robeson Found Emphasis to Win Too Great in College Football 1926-03-13
- Duberman: 11; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 40–41, Robeson: 18–19, Brown: 53–54, 65, Carroll: 58.
- Duberman: 19; cf. Brown: 60, 64, Gilliam: 15, Robeson 2001: 20.
- Boyle and Bunie: 45–49; cf. Duberman: 19, 24, Brown: 60, 65.
- Duberman: 20–21; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 49–50, Brown: 61–63.
- Van Gelder, Robert (1944-01-16). "Robeson Remembers: An interview with the Star of Othello, Partly about his Past". New York Times. pp. X1.; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 49–50, Duberman: 20–21, Robeson 2001: 22–23.
- Yeakey, Lamont H. (Autumn 1973). "A Student Without Peer: The Undergraduate College Years of Paul Robeson".
- Duberman: 24; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 54, Brown: 71, Robeson 2001: 28, 31–32.
- Boyle and Bunie: 54; Duberman: 24, Levy: 1–2, Brown: 71, Robeson 2001: 28.
- Duberman: 24; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 54, Brown: 70, Robeson 2001: 35.
- Brown 68–70; cf. Duberman: 22–23, Boyle and Bunie: 59–60, Robeson 2001: 27, Pitt: 42.
- Duberman: 22, 573; cf. Robeson 2001: 29–30, Brown: 74–82, Boyle and Bunie: 65–66.
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (March 1918). "Men of the Month". The Crisis 15 (5): 229–232.; cf. Marable: 171?
- Boyle and Bunie: 68.
- Robeson 2001: 33; cf. Duberman: 25, Boyle and Bunie: 68–69, Brown: 85–87.
- Boyle and Bunie: 68–69.
- Robeson 1958: 6.
- Duberman: 25; cf. Boyle and Bunie 68–69, Brown: 86–87, Robeson 2001: 33.
- Duberman: 24; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 69, 74, 437, Robeson 2001: 35.
- "Hall of Fame: Robeson". ; The number of letters varies between 12 and 15 based on author; cf. Duberman, p. 22, Boyle and Bunie: 73, Robeson 2001: 34–35.
- Jenkins, Burris (1922-09-28). "Four Coaches—O'Neill of Columbia, Sanderson of Rutgers, Gargan of Fordham, and Thorp of N.Y.U.—Worrying About Outcome of Impending Battles". The Evening World. p. 24.
- Boyle and Bunie: 66; cf. Duberman: 22–23, Robeson 2001: 30, 35.
- "Who Belongs to Phi Beta Kappa?". The Phi Beta Kappa Society. Archived from the original on 2012-01-21.; cf. Brown: 94, Boyle and Bunie: 74, Duberman: 24.
- Boyle and Bunie: 74; cf. Duberman: 26, Brown: 94.
- Brown: 94–95; cf. Duberman: 30, Boyle and Bunie: 75–76, Harris: 47.
- Duberman: 26; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 75, Brown: 94, Robeson 2001: 36.
- Kirshenbaum, Jerry (1972-03-27). "Paul Robeson: Remaking A Fallen Hero". Sports Illustrated 36 (13): 75–77.
- Robeson, Paul Leroy (1919-06-10). "The New Idealism". ; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 76, Duberman: 26–27, Brown: 95, Robeson 2001: 36–39.
- "Thorpe-M'Millan Fight Great Duel: Robeson Scores Both Touchdowns for Locals Against Indians". ; cf. Badgers Trim Thorpe's Team
- Robeson 2001: 43; cf. Boyle and Bunie; 78–82, Brown: 107.
- Duberman: 34; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 82, Robeson 2001: 44, Carroll: 140–141.
- Brown: 111; cf. Gilliam: 25, Boyle and Bunie: 53; Duberman: 41.
- Boyle and Bunie: 82.
- Robeson 2001: 43–44; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 82, Brown: 107–108.
- Boyle and Bunie: 143; cf. Robeson 2001: 45.
- Weisenfeld: 161–162.; cf. Robeson 1958: 2.
- Duberman: 34–35, 37–38; Boyle and Bunie: 87–89, Robeson 2001: 46–48.
- Duberman: 43.
- Peterson: 93; cf. Robeson 2001: 48–49; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 89, 104, 1924-05-11New York TimesWho's Who
- Robeson 2001: 50–52; cf. Duberman: 39–41, cf. Boyle and Bunie: 88–89, 94, Brown: 119.
- Levy 2000: 30; cf. Akron Pros 1920 by Bob Carrol, John Carroll p. 147–148, Robeson 2001: 53.
- Boyle and Bunie: 104–105.
- Darnton, Charles (1922-04-05). Taboo' Casts Voodoo Spell"'". ; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 100–105, TabooReview of , Duberman: 43.
- Wintz: 6–8; cf. Duberman 44–45, Robeson 2001: 57–59, Boyle and Bunie: 98–100.
- Duberman: 44–45; cf. Brown: 120, Robeson 2001: 57–59, Boyle: 100–101.
- Boyle and Bunie: 105–107; cf. Brown: 120, Duberman: 47–48, 50, Robeson 2001: 59, 63–64.
- Brown: 120–121; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 105–106.
- Boyle and Bunie: 139.
- Boyle and Bunie: 108–109; cf. Robeson 2001: 68–69, Duberman: 34, 51, Carrol: 151–152.
- Levy: 31–32; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 111.
- Duberman: 54–55; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 111–113, Robeson 2001: 71, Brown: 122.
- Boyle and Bunie: 111–114; cf: Duberman: 54–55, Robeson 2001: 71–72, Gillam: 29.
- Boyle and Bunie: 115; cf. History, Schomburg Unit Listed as Landmark: Spawning Ground of Talent 40 Seats Are Not Enough Plans for a Museum
- Robeson 2001: 73; cf. Duberman: 52–55, Boyle and Bunie: 111, 116–117.
- "All God's Chillun". ; cf. Duberman: 57–59, Boyle and Bunie: 118–121, Gillam: 32–33.
- Robeson 2001: 73–76; cf. Gillam: 36–37, Duberman: 53, 57–59, 61–62, Boyle and Bunie: 90–91, 122–123.
- Boyle and Bunie: 123.
- Madden, Will Anthony (1924-05-17). "Paul Robeson Rises To Supreme Heights In "The Emperor Jones". Pittsburgh Courier. p. 8.; cf. Corbin, John (1924-05-07). "The Play; Jazzed Methodism" New York Times p. 18., Duberman: 62–63, Boyle and Bunie: 124–125.
- Young, Stark (1924-08-24). "The Prompt Book". New York Times. pp. X1.; entitled: "All God's Chillun" Plays Without a Single ProtestChicago Tribune, Boyle and Bunie: 126–127, Duberman: 64–65.
- Robeson, Paul (2000). "An Actor's Wanderings and Hopes". In Sondra Kathryn Wilson. The Messenger Reader. New York: The Modern Library. pp. 292–293. ; cf. Robeson, Paul (1925–01). "An Actor's Wanderings and Hopes". The Messenger 7 (1): 32.
- Gillam: 38–40; cf. Duberman: 68–71, 76, Sampson: 9.
- Boyle and Bunie: 142–143; cf. "I Owe My Success To My Wife," Says Paul Robeson, Star In O'Neill's Drama
- Robeson 2001: 84.
- Robeson 2001: 84; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 149, 152.
- Nollen: 14, 18–19, Duberman: 67, Boyle and Bunie: 160, Gillam: 43.
- "Robeson to Sing for Nursery Fund: Benefit to Be Given in Greenwich Village Theatre March 15". New York Amsterdam News. 1925-03-11. p. 9.
- Coates, Ulysses (1925-04-18). "Radio". Chicago Defender. pp. A8. cf. Robeson to Sing [Spirituals] Over Radio 1925-04-08
- Duberman: 78; Boyle and Bunie: 139, Robeson 2001: 85.
- Duberman: 79; cf. Gilliam: 41–42, Boyle and Bunie: 140, Robeson 2001: 85–86.
- "Clara Young Loses $75,000 in Jewels". New York Times. 1925-04-20. p. 21.; cf. Paul Robeson, Lawrence Brown Score Big New York Success With Negro Songs, Music, Duberman: 80–81.
- Duberman: 82, 86, Boyle and Bunie: 149, Robeson 2001: 93, Robeson on Victor 1925-09-16
- Gillam: 45–47; cf. Duberman: 83, 88–98, Boyle and Bunie: 161–167, Robeson 2001: 95–97.
- Boyle and Bunie: 169–184; cf. Duberman: 98–106, Gillam: 47–49.
- Duberman: 106; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 184.
- Robeson 2001: 143; cf. Duberman: 106 Boyle and Bunie: 184.
- Duberman: 110; cf. Robeson 2001: 147, Gillam: 49.
- Boyle and Bunie: 186; cf. Duberman: 112, Robeson 2001: 148.
- "'"Drury Lane Theatre: 'Showboat. ; Duberman: 113–115, Boyle and Bunie: 188–192, Robeson 2001: 149–156.
- Boyle and Bunie: 192.
Rogers, J A (1928-10-06). Show Boat' Pleasure-Disappointment": Rogers Gives New View Says Race Talent Is Submerged"'". Pittsburgh Courier. pp. A2.
[Show Boat] is, so far as the Negro is concerned, a regrettable bit of American niggerism introduced into Europe.; Duberman: 114, Gilliam: 52.
- "Mrs. Paul Robeson Majestic Passenger: Coming to Settle Business Affairs of Her Distinguished Husband". New York Amsterdam News. 1928-08-22. p. 8.; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 193–197; cf. Duberman: 114, Gilliam: 52.
- "Sings For Prince Of Wales". Pittsburgh Courier. 1928-07-28. p. 12.; cf. Duberman: 115, Boyle and Bunie: 196, Robeson 2001: 153.
- "English Parliament Honors Paul Robeson". Chicago Defender. 1928-12-01. pp. A1.; cf. Seton 1978: 30; cf. Robeson 2001: 155, Boyle and Bunie: ?
- Boyle and Bunie: 205–207; cf. Robeson 2001: 153–156, Gilliam: 52, Duberman: 118.
- Duberman: 126–127.
- Duberman: 123-124.
- Duberman, Martin (1988-12-28). "Writing Robeson". ; cf. Gilliam: 57, Boyle and Bunie: 159–160, Robeson 2001: 100–101.
- Robeson 2001: 163–165.
- Robeson 2001: 172–173; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 230–234, Duberman: 139–140.
- Duberman: 143–144; cf. Robeson 2001: 165–166.
- Nollen: 24; cf. Duberman: 129–130, Boyle and Bunie: 221–223.
- Duberman: 133–138; Gilliam: 59–60.
- Morrison: 114; cf. Swindall 2011: 23, Robeson 2001: 166.
- Nollen: 29; cf. Gilliam: 60, Boyle and Bunie: 226–229.
- Robeson 2001: 176–177; cf. Nollen: 29.
- Robeson 2001: 178–182; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 238–240, 257; cf. Gilliam: 62–64, Duberman: 140–144.
- Oakley, Annie (1932-05-24). "The Theatre and Its People". ; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 253–254, Duberman: 161, Robeson 2001: 192–193.
- Duberman: 161; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 258–259, Robeson 2001: 132, 194.
- Sources are unclear on this point. Duberman: 145; cf. Robeson 2001: 182.
- Duberman: 162–163; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 262–263, Robeson 2001: 194–196.
- Robeson 2001: 195–200; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 267–268, Duberman: 166.
- Boyle and Bunie: 271–274; cf. Duberman: 167, Robeson 2001: 204.
- Nollen: 41–42; cf. Robeson 2001: 207; Duberman: 168–169.
- Boyle and Bunie: 269–271.
- Boyle and Bunie: 275–279; cf. Duberman: 167–168.
- "Black Greatness". ; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 284–285; cf. Duberman: 169–170.
- Boyle and Bunie: 285–286.
- Boyle and Bunie: 284–285.
- The rationale for Robeson's sudden interest in African history is viewed as inexplicable by one of his biographers (Martin Bauml Duberman p. ?), and no biographers have stated an explanation, for what Duberman terms as a "sudden interest"; cf. Cameron: p. 285.
- Nollen: 52.
- Nollen: 45.
- Duberman: 182–185.
- Smith, Ronald A. (Summer 1979). "The Paul Robeson—Jackie Robinson Saga and a Political Collision". Journal of Sport History 6 (2).; cf. Duberman: 184–185, 628–629.
- Foner 1978: 94–96 (Smith, Vern (1935-01-15). "'I am at Home,' Says Robeson at Reception in Soviet Union", Daily Worker).
- Nollen: 53–55.
- Nollen: 53; cf. Duberman 178–182.
Rotha, Paul (Spring 1935). "Sanders on the River". Cinema Quarterly 3 (3): 175–176.
You may, like me, feel embarrassed for Robeson. To portray on the public screen your own race as a smiling but cunning rogue, as clay in a woman's hands (especially when she is of the sophisticated American Brand), as toady to the white man is no small feat...It is important to remember that the multitudes of this country [Britain] who see Africa in this film, are being encouraged to believe this fudge is real. It is a disturbing thought. To exploit the past is the historian's loss. To exploit the present means in this case, the disgrace of a Continent.; cf. Duberman: 180–182; contra: : p. 12. 1935-04-03.The Times"Leicester Square Theatre: Sanders of the River",
- Low: 257; cf. Duberman: 181–182.
- Low: 170–171.
- Sources are unclear if Robeson unilaterally took the final product of the film as insulting or if his distaste was abetted by criticism of the film. Nollen: 53; cf. Duberman: 182.
- Foner 1978: 104–105.
- Robeson Jr.: 280-281.
- at IMDb.Song of Freedom
- at IMDb.Show Boat
- at IMDb.Big Fella
- "Africa Sings". Villon Films. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- at IMDb.King Solomon's Mines
- "Most Popular Stars of 1937: Choice of British Public". ; cf. Richards, Jeffrey: 18.
- Robeson 1958: 53; cf. Robeson 1981: 38, Duberman: 220.
- Robeson 2001: 292; cf. Boyle and Bunie: 375–378.
- Glazer defines it as a change from a "..lyric of defeat into a rallying cry." Glazer: 167; cf. Robeson 2001: 293, Boyle and Bunie: 381, Lennox 2011: 124, Robeson 1981: 37, Hopkins: 313 "At Manchester Free Trade Hall on September 28, 1938, Paul Robeson led in singing the famous verses of ... [the hymn] Jerusalem ... This suggests a very different spirit from that which the historian Gareth Stedman Jones found a generation earlier. He had written of workers who buried their millennial dreams and adopted a defensive strategy to fend off the aggressions of employers of the 1890s. ... For those who sang Jerusalem then, it was not as a battle-cry but as a hymn. For those caught up in the passion play of Spain, and still eager to recapture lost ideological positions it had become a battle cry."
- Duberman: 222.
- "Paul Robeson at the Unity Theater", Daily Express June 20, 1938; cf: Duberman: 222–223.
- "Paul Robeson". Coalfield Web Materials. University of Swansea. 2002.
- Boyle: 396.
- "Spanish Relief Efforts: Albert Hall Meeting £1,000 Collected for Children". ; cf. Brown: 77, Robeson 2010: 372.
- Beeves: 356.
- Weyden: 433–434.
- Beevor: 356; cf. Eby: 279–280, Landis: 245–246.
- Wyden: 433–434.
- "India's Struggle for Freedon: Mr. Nehru on Imperialism and Fascism". The Guardian. 1938–06–28. ; cf. Duberman: 225.
- Duberman: 223 "He explained to the press that 'something inside has turned...',; Nollen: 122?
- Duberman: 223.
- "Robeson Joins London Workers' Theatre". Chicago Defender. 1938-07-02. p. 24.; cf. Nollen: 122.
- Boyle and Bunie: 320; cf. Von Eschen: ?
- Price: 8–9; cf. Collier's ??
- Duberman: 236–238.
- Bourne, Stephen; Dr. Hywel Francis. "The Proud Valley" (PDF). Edinburgh Film Guide. Archived from the original on 2012-07-04.
- FBI record, "Paul Robeson". FBI 100-25857, New York, December 8, 1942.
- Duberman: 259–261.
- Lustiger: 125–127.
- at IBDB.Othello
- Foner, Henry (2002). "Foreword". In Dorinson, Joseph; Pencak, William. Paul Robeson: Essays on His Life and Legacy. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 1.
- Duberman: 295.
- Duberman: 296-297.
- Duberman: 307.
- "Group Confers with Truman on Lynching".
- Nollen: 157–156.
- Lewis, David L. (2000). W. E. B. Du Bois, 1919-1963: The Fight for Equality and the American Century. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 522–523.
- Duberman: 249-250.
- Duberman: 241.
- Duberman: 296.
- Cornell, Douglas B. (1947-12-05). "Attorney General's List of 'Subversive Groups' is Derided by Solon". ; cf. Goldstein 2008, pp. 62, 66, 88.
- Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee, Paul Robeson Chronology (Part 5).
- Duberman: 324.
- Duberman: 326-327.
- Robeson 2010: 137.
- Foner 1978: 197–198.
- Robeson 2010: 142–143; cf. Duberman: 342–345, 687.
- Robeson 2010: 142–143; cf. Foner 1978: 197–198, Seton 1958: 179, Interview with Paul Robeson, Jnr.
- "Studs Terkel, Paul Robeson – Speak of Me As I Am, BBC, 1998"
- Duberman: 352–353.
- Lustiger: 210–211.
- McConnell: 348.
- Duberman: 353–354.
- Duberman: 361–362; cf. Robinson 1972: 94–98.
- Duberman: 358–360; cf. Robinson 1972: 94–98.
- Duberman: 364; cf: Robeson 1981: 181.
- Duberman; 364-370; cf. Robeson 1981: 181.
- Robeson: 373–374.
- LA Times: Jan 1, 1950, p. ?
- Walsh: 689.
- Brown 1998: 162; cf. Robeson 1971: 5, Walsh only listed a ten man All-American team for the 1917 team and he lists no team due to World War I. Walsh: 1949: 16–18, 32, The information in the book was compiled by information from the colleges, "... but many deserving names are missing entirely from the pages of [the] book because ... their alma mater was unable to provide them. – Glenn S. Warner" Walsh: 6, The Rutgers University list was presented to Walsh by Gordon A. McCoy, Director of Publicity for Rutgers, and although this list says that Rutgers had two All-Americans at the time of the publishing of the book, the book only lists the other All-American and does not list Robeson as being an All-American. Walsh: 684.
- "'"Mrs. Roosevelt sees a 'Misunderstanding. New York Times. 1950-03-15.
- Wright 1975: 97.
- Von Eschen: 181-185.
- Duberman: 388–389.
- Robert Alan, "Paul Robeson - the Lost Shepherd". The Crisis, November 1951 pp. 569–573.
- Duberman 1988: 396.
- Foner, Henry 2001 ?: 112–115 ?
- Von Eschen: 127.
- Duberman: 396; cf. Foner, Henry 2001?: 112–115.
- Duberman: 397–398.
- "Paul Robeson is Awarded Stalin Prize".
- "Post Robeson Gets Stalin Peace Prize".
- Foner 1978: 347–349.
- Duberman: 354.
- Foner 1978: 236–241.
- Duberman, p. 400.
- Duberman p. 411.
- Howard, Tony (2009-01-29). "Showcase: Let Robeson Sing".
- Duberman 1988: 437.
- Barry Finger, "Paul Robeson: A Flawed Martyr", in: New Politics Vol. 7 No. 1 (Summer 1998)
- Robeson 1978: 3–8.
- Duberman: 458.
- Duberman: 463.
- "British Give Singer Paul Robeson Hero's Welcome". The Modesto Bee. 1958-07-11.
- Duberman: 469.
- Duberman: 471.
- Robeson 1981: 218.
- Duberman: 472.
- Duberman: 487–491.
- Curthoys: 171.
- Steinke, Nicole. "Paul Robeson: the singer who fought for justice and paid with his life".
- Duberman: 489.
- Curthoys: 168 ; cf. Duberman: 489.
- Foner 1978: 470–471.
- Curthoys: 164, 173–175: cf. Duberman: 490.
- Curthoys: 175–177; cf. Duberman
- Robeson 2010: 309.
- Duberman: 498–499.
- Nollen: 180.
- Radio broadcast presented by Amy Goodman, Did the U.S. Government Drug Paul Robeson? (Part 1). Democracy Now (July 1, 1999) Did the U.S. Government Drug Paul Robeson? (Part 2). Democracy Now (July 6, 1999).
- Duberman: 563–564.
- Duberman: 438–442.
- Robeson, Paul Jr. (1999-12-20). "Time Out: The Paul Robeson Files". The Nation 269 (21): 9.
- Duberman: 735–736.
- Nollen: 180–181.
- Travis, Alan (2003-03-06). "Paul Robeson was tracked by MI5". ; cf. Western Mail, 
- Duberman: 509.
- Nollen: 182.
- Duberman: 516–518.
- Duberman: 537.
- Robeson, Jr. 2010: 346.
- Farmer: 297–298.
- Duberman: 162–163.
- Robeson 1981: 235–237.
- Bell: ?
- Duberman: 516.
- "Died". ; Duberman: 548.
- Robeson 1981: 236–237.
- Duberman: 549.
- Hoggard, Bishop J. Clinton. "Eulogy". The Paul Robeson Foundation.
- Carrol: ?
- Finkelman: 363; cf. Dorinson: 74.
- Miller, Patrick B. (2004). "Muscular assimilationism: sport and the paradoxes of racial reform". In Charles K. Ross. Race and Sport. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 149–150.
- Duberman: 81.
- Duberman: 90; cf. Bogle 2001: 100, Nollen: ?
- Von Eschen: 185.
- "National Historic Landmarks Program". 2012-01-03. p. 71
- "Paul Robeson Galleries".; cf. Paul Robeson Library,  The Paul Robeson Cultural Center, 
- O'Malley, Padraig. "1978". Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
- "1980". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
- Armour, Nancy (1995-08-26). "Brown, Robeson inducted into college football hall".
- "From the Valley of Obscurity, Robeson's Baritone Rings Out; 22 Years After His Death, Actor-Activist Gets a Grammy". The New York Times. February 25, 1998.
- "The Paul Robeson centennial". Ebony 53 (7): 110–114. 1998-05-01.; cf. Lorenzo Dow Turner
- "Theater Hall of Fame members".
- "Paul Robeson as Othello". 2010-07-29.
- .Morrison: pp. 114-140.
- NAACP Spingarn Medal
- Curthoys: 178–180; cf. Duberman 491.
- "Paul Robeson zu Gast Unter den Linden – Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin" (in Deutsch). Hu-berlin.de.
- Duberman: 557.
- . 515 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY: New York Public Libraries http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/16670166052907_paul_robeson_archive.
- Von Eschen: 1–2.
- Balaji: 430–432.
- Hagen & Hiebert, "Reflections on a Life: Paul Robeson Remembered," Eastside Inc, Charbo 2010
- "English Heritage Unveil A Blue Plaque To Honour Paul Robeson". untoldlondon.org.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Stamp Series". United States Postal Service. Retrieved Sep 2, 2013.
- "Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved Dec 8, 2013.
- Richards, Larry: 231.
- Dent, Roberta Yancy, with Marilyn Robeson and Paul Robeson, Jr. eds. Paul Robeson, Tributes, Selected Writings. New York: The Archives, 1976. OCLC 2507933.
- Foner, Philip S., ed. Paul Robeson Speaks: Writings, Speeches, Interviews, 1918–1974. Larchmont: Brunner/Mazel, 1978. ISBN 0-87630-179-0
- Robeson, Paul Leroy (1919-06-10). "The New Idealism". The Targum 50, 1918–1919: 570–1.
- Robeson, Paul; with Brown, Lloyd L. (1998). Here I Stand. (2nd ed.). Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-6445-9.
- Robeson, Paul (2000). "An Actor's Wanderings and Hopes". In Sondra Kathryn Wilson. The Messenger Reader. New York: The Modern Library. pp. 292–293.
- Boyle, Sheila Tully, and Andrew Bunie (2001). Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1-55849-149-X.
- Brown, Lloyd L. (1997). The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3178-1.
- Duberman, Martin Bauml (1988). Paul Robeson. New York: New Press. ISBN 1-56584-288-X.
- Ehrlic, Scott (1988). Paul Robeson. New York. Chelsea House. ISBN 0-87067-552-4.
- Gilliam, Dorothy Butler (1976). Paul Robeson, All-American. Washington, D.C.: New Republic Books ISBN 0-915220-39-3.
- Hoyt, Edwin P. (1968). Paul Robeson: The American Othello. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company.
- Ramdin, Ron (1987). Paul Robeson, The Man and His Mission. London: Peter Owen. ISBN 0-7206-0684-5.
- Robeson, Eslanda (1930).Paul Robeson, Negro (1st edition). London: Victor Gollancz Ltd. ASIN: B0006E8ML4.
- Robeson Paul, Jr. (2001). The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: An Artist's Journey, 1898–1939. Wiley. ISBN 9780471151050 (ebook).
- Robeson Paul, Jr. (2010). The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom, 1939–1976. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-40973-1.
- Seton, Marie (1958). Paul Robeson. London: Dennis Dobson.
- Balaji, Murali (2007). The Professor and the Pupil: The Politics and Friendship of W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson. New York: Nation Books ISBN 1-56858-355-9.
- Beevor, Antony (2007). The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Phoenix. ISBN 9780753821657.
- Bell, Charlotte Turner (1986). Paul Robeson's Last Days in Philadelphia Bryn Mawr: Dorrance Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 0-8059-3026-4.
- Bogle, Donald (2001). Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films (4 ed.). New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-1267-X.
- Cameron, Kenneth M. (1990-10-01). "Paul Robeson, Eddie Murphy, and the Film Text of 'Africa'". Text & Performance Quarterly 10 (4): 282–293.
- Carroll, John M. (1992). Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-01814-1.
- Curthoys, Ann (2010). "Paul Robeson’s visit to Australia and Aboriginal activism, 1960" In Frances Peters-Little, Ann Curthoys and John Docker. Passionate Histories: Myth, Memory and Indigenous Australia. Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press and Aboriginal History Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-921666-65-0.
- Dorinson, Joseph (2002). "Something to Cheer About: Paul Robeson, Athlete" in Dorinson, Joseph; with Pencak, William, eds. (2002). Paul Robeson: Essays on His Life and Legacy. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-1153-8.
- Eby, Cecil D. (2007). Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271029108.
- Farmer, James (1985). Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Arbor House. ISBN 0-87795-624-3.
- Finkelman, Paul (2007). "Paul Robeson" in Wintz, Cary D., ed. (2007). Harlem Speaks: A Living History of the Harlem Renaissance. Naperville: Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-0436-4.
- Foner, Henry (2001). Paul Robeson: A Century of Greatness. Paul Robeson Foundation.
- Foner, Henry (2002). "Foreword" in Dorinson, Joseph; with Pencak, William, eds. (2002). Paul Robeson: Essays on His Life and Legacy. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-1153-8.
- Glazer, Peter (2007). "The lifted fist: performing the Spanish Civil War, New York City, 1936–1939" in Fernandez, James D., and Carroll, Peter N. (eds), Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War. New York: Museum of the City of New York and NYU Press. ISBN 9780814716816.
- Goldstein, Robert Justin (2009). American Blacklist: The Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1604-6.
- Harris, Francis C. (1998). "Paul Robeson: An Athlete's Legacy" in Stewart, Jeffrey C. (ed.), Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen. Rutgers University Press and The Paul Robeson Cultural Center. ISBN 0-8135-2511-X.
- Hopkins, James K. (1999). Into the Heart of the Fire: The British in the Spanish Civil War. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3127-6.
- James, C,L,R, (2013 ) Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts. Durham and London: Duke University Press. ISBN. 978-0-8223-5314-0.
- Landis, Arthur H. (1967). The Abraham Lincoln Brigade. New York: Citadel Press.
- Low, Rachel (1985). Film Making in 1930s Britain. London: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-791042-9.
- Lustiger, Arno (2003). Stalin and the Jews, The Red Book: the Tragedy of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the Soviet Jews. New York: Enigma. ISBN 1-929631-10-3.
- Marable, Manning (2005). W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat. Paradigm Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59451-018-2.
- McConnell, Lauren (2010). "Understanding Paul Robeson’s Soviet Experience". Theatre History Studies 30: 138–153.
- Morrison, Michael A. (May 2011). "Paul Robeson's Othello at the Savoy Theatre, 1930". New Theatre Quarterly 27 (2): 114–140.
- Naison, Mark (1998). "Paul Robeson and the American Labor Movement" in Stewart, Jeffrey C. (ed.), Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen. Rutgers University Press and The Paul Robeson Cultural Center. ISBN 0-8135-2511-X.
- Nollen, Scott Allen (2010). Paul Robeson: Film Pioneer. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-3520-3.
- Pellowski, Michael (2008). Rutgers Football: A Gridiron Tradition in Scarlet. New Brunswick: Rivergate Books. ISBN 9780813542836.
- Peterson, Bernard L., Jr. (1997). The African American Theatre Directory, 1816–1960. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-29537-9.
- Pitt, Larry (1969) Football at Rutgers: A History, 1869–1969. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-0747-2.
- Robeson, Paul Jr. (1978). "Paul Robeson: Black Warrior". In Freedomways. Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 3–16.
- Richards, Jeffrey (1998). The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema 1929–39. New York: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-303-5.
- Richards, Larry (1998). African American Films through 1959: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Filmography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0307-1.
- Robeson, Susan (1981). The Whole World in His Hands: A Pictorial Biography of Paul Robeson. Secaucus: Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0754-3.
- Robinson, Eugene (1978). "A Distant Image: Paul Robeson and Rutgers' Students". In Freedomways. Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 178–188.
- Robinson, Jackie and Duckett, Alfred (1972). I Never Had It Made. Hopewell: Ecco Press.
- Robinson, Robert (1988). Black on Red: A Black American's 44 Years inside the Soviet Union. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books. ISBN 0-87491-885-5.
- Rogovin, Vadim Z. (1998). 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror. Oak Park, MI: Mehring Books, Inc. ISBN 0-929087-77-1.
- Sampson, Henry T. (2005). Swingin' on the Ether Waves: A Chronological History of African Americans in Radio and Television Programming, 1925–1955. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-4087-1.
- Seton, Marie (1978). "Paul Robeson on the English Stage". In Freedomways. Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 26–49. . A reprint of Seton 1958.
- Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9.
- Stuckey, Sterling (1994). Going Through the Storm: The Influence of African American Art in History. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507677-X.
- Swindall, Lindsay R. (2011). The Politics of Paul Robeson's Othello. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. eISBN 978-1-60473-825-4.
- Tuner, Lorenzo Dow (2007). Lorenzo Dow Turner: Father of Gullah Studies. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-628-6. p. 108.
- Von Eschen, Penny M. (1994). Race Against Empire: African Americans and Anti-colonialism, 1937–1957. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3197-2.
- Walsh, Christy (1949). College Football: and All America Review. Murray & Gee.
- Weisenfeld, Judith (1997). African American Women and Christian Activism: New York's Black YWCA, 1905–1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00778-6.
- Wintz, Cary D. ed. (2007). Harlem Speaks: A Living History of the Harlem Renaissance. Naperville: Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-0436-4.
- Wright, Charles (1975). Paul Robeson: Labor's Forgotten Champion. Detroit: Balamp Publishing. ISBN 0-913642-06-1.
- Wyden, Peter (1983). The Passionate War: A Narrative History of the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-25330-1.
Film biographies and documentaries about Robeson
- The Tallest Tree in Our Forest (1977)
- Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979)
- Paul Robeson - James Earl Jones One Man Show (1979 TV movie)
- Paul Robeson: Speak of Me As I Am (1998)
- Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999) PBS American Masters, directed by St. Clair Bourne
- Paul Robeson: Portraits of an Artist (2007) Irvington: Criterion Collection. ISBN 1-934121-19-3.
- Fordin, Hugh (1977). Getting to Know Him.
- Paul Robeson at the FBI
- Paul Robeson at the Internet Movie Database
- Paul Robeson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Paul Robeson at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Works by or about Paul Robeson in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Historic 1944 footage of Paul Robeson speaking in New York at celebration honoring his 46th birthday and the anniversary of the Council on African Affairs