Paul Robeson as a Global Citizen
The life and legacy of the esteemed Rutgers alumnus Paul Robeson embodies the idea of “global citizenship.” A towering figure in the African American struggle for human dignity and democratic rights, he connected this struggle with those of other peoples around the world, who were also fighting for political rights, cultural recognition and economic justice. For example, among many other social justice movements that he embraced, Paul Robeson pioneered the global solidarity movement against racial segregation and white supremacy in South Africa and supported and marched with various British union movements in the United Kingdom who were struggling for better working conditions. The aim of the proposed seminar is to introduce students to the life and legacy of Paul Robeson, especially with respect to how he tried to integrate “home” and “world” into his civil rights activism. The seminar has a four-fold focus: (1) to explore Paul Robeson’s formative years as a student at Rutgers and the challenges he faced as the only Black student in his graduating class; (2) to examine some of his artistic achievements as an actor on the stage and screen, especially his role in promoting African-American folk songs on the concert stages of the world; (3) to study his efforts to connect anti-fascism, anti-racism and anti-imperialism together; and (4) to examine his controversial associations with communist movements and the former Soviet Union.