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Paul Robeson’s 125th Birthday Celebration

April 8 @ 1:00 pm

Celebrate the 125th birthday of Paul Robeson on Saturday, 8 April at 1:00 in the Bassett House
with films and Birthday Cake

We will first screen the 1978 Academy Award winning short documentary, Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist, narrated by film star Sidney Poitier. After this 30-minute tribute, we will screen the 1940 UK feature film, The Proud Valley, in which Robeson stars as a Black seaman joining a Welsh coal-mining community. Robeson is proudest of having made this film.

Robeson was descended from over 200 years of USA and UK Quakers through his mother, Maria Louisa Bustill Robeson, who died in a house fire before he entered primary school. Young Paul was raised by his father, an escapee from slavery in NC, and grew up to be an individual of great moral, physical, and intellectual stamina. As a student at Rutgers, Robeson won every University oratorical contest for which he was eligible and graduated as a 2-year, Phi- Beta-Kappa member; class valedictorian; four-letter athlete; and 2- year All-American football star. This served as a preamble to his legendary career as a screen, stage, and recording star. At great personal cost, Robeson advocated for Black and working-class liberation around the world and built connections between Africans, African Americans, and people of the Caribbean struggling against Western Imperialism. In the Cold War, he developed close relations with artists, leaders, and ordinary people in various Socialist countries, including the USSR. The USA government, economic institutions, and media united to take away Robeson’s livelihood and even public exposure by seizing his passport for eight years, instituting an industry boycott of his records, and barring him from concert halls.

Bassett House