Paul Robeson was born in 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey.His mother was from an affluent family in Philadelphia.An escaped slave, his father was a Presbyterian minister.
At 17, Robeson was given a scholarship to Rutgus University, where he excelled in athletics.He graduated Valedictorian of his class.Deciding to further his education, he enrolled in Columbia University Law School.Upon graduation, he was hired by a New York law firm.Racial problems but short his career as a lawyer.
His first appearance on stage was the lead in “All God’s Chillun Got Wings”, followed by “The Emperor Jones”.He was also a talented singer, most remembered for his performance of “Ole Man River”.
Paul Robeson was one of the first African Americans to play major roles in American theatre.He starred in “Othello”, which was the longest running Shakespeare play on Broadway, with almost three hundred performances.
Throughout his career, Robeson was recognized for his own efforts against racism as well as fascism abroad.He fluently spoke fifteen different languages.Due to his political views, he was singled out as a black nationalist.They evoked his passport so he could no longer perform abroad.
It took eight years to get his passport reinstated, at which time he had concerts in England and Australia.He was admitted to a London hospital to be treated for depression, including electroshock treatments.
In 1963, he finally returned to the United States. Still suffering with both physical and psychological illness, he announced his intentions to retire to Philadelphia, where he lived in seclusion.