Paul Robeson in D.C.
Paul Robeson was a renaissance man who excelled in college graduating Phi Beta Kappa, was class valedictorian and was an all-American football player who also won letters in multiple sports.

He attended both NYU School of Law and Columbia. while in school began performing on stage and as a singer. He also briefly played NFL football before graduating.

He briefly worked as a lawyer before denouncing the profession as racist. He then embraced a singing and acting career that led to multiple awards.

Among his best performances on stage and in film were those in The Emporer Jones, Othello, Sanders of the River, Showboat and Song of Freedom. He also released many popular albums

Always an advocate for social justice, he became deeply involved during the 1930s and appeared at many picket lines, rallies and concerts to benefit a multitude of causes.

After World War II, he led demonstrations in Washington, D.C. against lynching in 1946-47 as chair of the American Crusade Against Lynching.

As the Second Red Scare gained traction after World War II, Robeson was blacklisted and by 1949 was deprived of venues and roles in the United States. In August 1949, a benefit concert for the Civil Rights Congress in Peekskill, N.Y. was broken up by vigilantes who pulled concert goers from their cars while police stood idly by.

On December 17, 1951, Robeson presented to the United Nations an anti-lynching petition, "We Charge Genocide." The document asserted that the United States federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was "guilty of genocide" under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention.

In 1955, he refused to answer whether he was a communist before the House Un American Activities Committee.

During this period, the FBI distributed anti-Robeson tracts and was thought to have ghost-written several articles criticizing him that were printed in the African American and mainstream press.

His career enjoyed a brief resurgence as the Red Scare eased in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but his health began to fail and his career was put on pause.

Civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin and James Farmer contacted Robeson about the possibility of becoming involved with the mainstream of the Civil Rights Movement.

Robeson refused to meet with Rustin because of his long-standing denunciations of the U.S. Communist Party, but agreed to see Farmer. However, Farmer demanded Robeson denounce the Soviet Union and communism as a condition for being invited to participate as a leader. Robeson refused.

He was not able to participate in many activities due to his health, but in 1973 he sent a taped message to a Carnegie Hall tribute to mark his 75th birthday.

It said in part, "Though I have not been able to be active for several years, I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace and brotherhood."

Robeson died in January 1976.
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