Paul Robeson was a remarkable man, he was a linguist (Spoke 15 languages) he was an orator, athlete, lawyer, singer, actor, civil rights, human rights activist. The great Paul Robeson was born on
April 9th 1898 and throughout his life he proved time and time again he was an excellent student; his grades never fell below 95.
In recognition of his scholarship the president of Rutgers University selected Paul Robeson as
commencement orator. The title of Paul’s commencement address was:
Our New Idealism… in this speech Paul Robeson envisioned the potentialities of America’s Black
citizens and he predicted what would happen when White America gave Black Americans the opportunity to
contribute freely to America from their artistic gifts, hard work, and God given talents.
Today this dream is realized in the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.
Upon leaving college young Paul Robeson had more than a few options in front of him regarding his career choice. Paul Robeson chose a career as an attorney, however, one day the secretary assigned to work for Paul Robeson informed Paul she would not take dictation from a nigger; hence a law career ended as soon as it began.
In 1924 Paul Robeson was offered the title role in Eugene O’Neil’s play, All God’s Chillun Got Wings.
In 1925 Paul Robeson starred in Oscar Micheaux’s silent film, Body & Soul; it is unclear why
Oscar Micheaux and Paul Robeson never worked together again. Paul Robeson went on to have a very
successful career in Hollywood.
Today, Paul Robeson holds the record for the longest running Othello on Broadway; on opening night
of his Othello, Paul Robeson took twenty curtain calls.
Paul Robeson the concert singer:
Speaking of Paul Robeson the concert singer, James Douglas critic of the London Daily Express
“I have heard all the great singers of our time.
No voice has moved me so profoundly with so many
passions of thought and emotion.
We laughed and wept.
He broke our hearts with his beauty.”
London Daily Express
When I first joined Actors Equity Association in New York as soon as you enter the Actor’s lounge you will see
a picture on the wall of Paul Robeson as Othello; you will see no other picture on the wall next to his.
“Soft you; a word or two before you go.
I have done the state some service, and they know it.
No more of that. I pray you in your letters, when you shall speak of me as I am.”
You can see Paul Robeson on Youtube in Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 silent film
Body & Soul.