“The Undiscovered Paul Robeson” Celebrating the 100 Year Anniversary of Paul Robeson’s Graduation from Rutgers

Susan Robeson (Executive Director, Paul Robeson Foundation)
Edward Ramsamy (Chair, Africana Studies)
James Whitney III (Assistant Vice Chancellor, Undergraduate Academic Affairs)

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 struggling for better working conditions. The seminar introduces students to the life and legacy of Paul Robeson, especially with respect to how he integrated “home” and “world” into his civil rights activism.

Guest lecturer Susan Robeson co-leads the seminar, incorporating unpublished materials from the Robeson family collections, including Robeson’s handwritten notes and spoken word recordings. Susan Robeson’s family experiences and extensive knowledge about the life and times of her grandfather bring a level of intimacy and storytelling to the seminar.

The seminar has a fourfold 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 antiimperialism together; and (4) to examine his controversial associations with communist movements and the former Soviet Union. This Byrne is a collaboration with Student Affairs-Living Learning Communities for students who reside on the Paul Robeson floor. This Byrne is open to all students.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section AC index 11049
Additional Information: 
Special Living-Learning Community Byrne