“Every artist, every scientist, every writer must decide now where he stands. The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice”
Paul Robeson, 1937
Paul Robeson is a man who defies categorization. Although famous as a great African American baritone and actor born of an escaped slave, Robeson was so much more. While his life’s work should be basic knowledge and pride of every American today, the deep state which ran America for over 70 years has done all but erase him from existence labelling him a “communist crackpot” and Soviet spy. Why is the oligarchy so afraid of his memory?
Robeson is a cultural warrior of the highest caliber who knew over 20 languages including Russian, Chinese, Arabic and several African dialects, he early on became a cultural ambassador expressing the universality of mankind as he sung folk songs around the world and created institutions to enhance the best of each cultures development. He combined the anti-imperialist fight to liberate all former colonies with the combat for racial equality in America. He was the most vocal opponent to the Wall Street takeover of America and was recognized internationally as the leading figure and founder of America’s Civil Rights movement.
Music as a Weapon
Robeson famously called “music his weapon”, and used it masterfully to build spiritual bridges with all cultures by absorbing their languages, stories and folk songs. He wrote: “folk songs are, in fact, an expression of a peoples’ innermost nature, of the distinctive and multifaceted conditions of its life and culture, of the sublime wisdom that reflects that peoples’ great historical journey and experience.
In Russia, Robeson sang numerous patriotic pieces like Song of the Plains in perfect Russian:
In China, he sang popular folk songs and was the first western singer to sing Chi Lai (Arise) in 1940 which later became China’s national anthem:
He even learned Yiddish and sang the anti-fascist Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ballad:
Nothing more powerfully conveys the insight Robeson had into the universality of mankind when one hears his incredible description of the universal harmonies, and patterns underlying world languages and folk music conveyed during his 1958 Carnegie Hall concert featuring international folk music:
Political Freedom as the Highest Art
Counted among his close friends and allies were Albert Einstein, Vice President Henry Wallace (who Robeson campaigned vigorously for in his 1948 bid for the presidency), Jawaharlal Nehru, Jomo Kenyatta, and Kwame Nkrumah. Kenyatta and Nkrumah became leaders of the powerful Pan African movement and were members of an organization called the Council on African Affairs founded and chaired by Robeson in 1937.
Presiding over the 1944 Council on African Affairs conference alongside emerging Pan African leaders and American workers of all colors, Robeson oversaw the resolutions defining the conferences’ objectives:
- To Give concrete help to the struggle of the African masses
- To disseminate accurate information concerning Africa and its people; in that, to wake up Americans to what is happening in Africa; the one continent where undisguised colonial slavery is still practiced.
- To influence the adoption of governmental policies designed to promote their advancement and freedom and preserve international peace.
- To smash the iron curtain of secrecy and double talk surrounding the schemes for imperialist exploitation of Africa and its people.
- To prevent American loans and guns from being used to crush the freedom struggle of Africans and other subject peoples.
- To strengthen the allegiance of progressive Americas, black and white, with the peoples of Africa and other lands in the struggle for world peace and freedom.
In the following class, delivered by Rising Tide Foundation Director Matthew Ehret, Paul Robeson’s life and mission is explored in detail, followed by selections of his music, speeches, interviews, writings and supplementary material.
American Spirituals and Folk Music
International Folk Music
Download all Paul Robeson EMI Recordings vol 1-7 (Click on each link to download the full MP3 files)
Robeson Speeches and interviews
Writings by Robeson
Writings about and Tributes to Robeson
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly