Upon graduating from Rutgers at the head of his class, he rejected a career as a professional athlete and instead entered Columbia University. He obtained a law degree in , but, because of the lack of opportunity for blacks in the legal profession , he drifted to the stage, making a London debut in He also starred in the film version of the play In addition to his other talents, Robeson had a superb bass-baritone singing voice. Increasing political awareness impelled Robeson to visit the Soviet Union in , and from that year he became increasingly identified with strong left-wing commitments, while continuing his success in concerts, recordings, and theatre. In the U. State Department withdrew his passport because he refused to sign an affidavit disclaiming membership in the Communist Party. In the following years he was virtually ostracized for his political views, although in the Supreme Court overturned the affidavit ruling.
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On stage and screen, his unique voice earned him universal artistic acclaim, but when he raised it in support of Civil Rights and social justice, his voice often aroused violent controversy. Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey , on April 9, , the son of a father born into slavery and a mother raised as a vocal abolitionist. Robeson moved to Harlem after graduation, where he worked his way through Columbia University Law School as an actor and professional football player. By , Robeson had passed the New York bar and earned critical raves on the London and Broadway stage. The lure of a promising career in law proved less compelling for Robeson than a career in the theater. Over the next twenty years, Robeson established himself as one of the most important musical and dramatic performers of his day. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! At a graduation ceremony at a church in Geneva, New York on January 23, , Geneva Medical College bestows a medical degree upon Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to receive one.
Paul Robeson, the singer, actor and black activist, died yesterday at the age of 77 in Philadelphia. He had suffered a stroke on Dec. Doctors said he was suffering from a severe cerebral vascular disorder.
Before he took the stage, however, his speech had somehow already been transcribed and dispatched back to the United States by the Associated Press. By the following day, editorialists and politicians had branded Robeson a communist traitor for insinuating that black Americans would not fight in a war against the Soviet Union. Historians would later discover that Robeson had been misquoted, but the damage had been almost instantly done. And because he was out of the country, the singer was unaware of the firestorm brewing back home over the speech. Some in the press were calling for his execution. Later that summer, in civil rights-friendly Westchester County, New York, at the one concert that was not canceled, anti-communist groups and Ku Klux Klan types hurled racial epithets, attacked concertgoers with baseball bats and rocks and burned Robeson in effigy. A man who had exemplified American upward mobility had suddenly become public enemy number one. Cap and Skull society members at Rutgers University, Class of