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Paul Robeson (1898-1976)

“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:

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.

Robeson’s Music

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 EMI Recordings vol. 1 (1928-1929)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 2 (1930-1931)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 3 (1932-1933)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 4 (1933-1936)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 5 (1936-1937)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 6 (1937-1938)

Robeson EMI Recordings vol. 7 (1939)

Robeson Speeches and interviews


Writings by Robeson

Paul Robeson speaks : writings, speeches, interviews, 1918-1974 (Free to borrow on

Here I Stand (1958 Autobiography) free on

Guide to the Paul Robeson Collection, 1916-2006 By Erika Gorder, Anthony Fatovic, and Jaclyn Fanelli Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

Supplementary Material

Writings about and Tributes to Robeson


Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary by Gerald Horne (click to download full book)

Paul Robeson and the Fight to Save the Soul of America by Matthew Ehret


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