Paul Robeson, despite being one of the greatest Renaissance figures in American history, still remains in relative anonymity. An exceptional scholar, lawyer, athlete, stage and screen actor, linguist, singer, and civil rights and political activist, he performed brilliantly in every professional enterprise he undertook. Few humans have achieved his levels of excellence in one field, much less several. Any serious treatment of civil rights history and radical politics as well as American sports, musical, theatrical, and film history must consider the enormous contributions of Paul Robeson.
And yet, Paul Robeson remains virtually unknown by millions of educated Americans. People typically know him for only one, if any, of the major successes of his life: the concert singer best known for "Old Man River," the star of Shakespeare's Othello on Broadway in the early 1940s, the political activist blacklisted for his radical views and activismduring the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s. Paul Robeson For Beginners is here to demystify and bestow light and long overdue credence to the life of this extraordinary American.
About the Author
Paul Von Blum is Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA. He has taught at the University of California since 1968, serving 11 years at UC Berkeley before arriving at UCLA in 1980. He is the author of six books and numerous articles on art, culture, education, and politics. His most recent book is A Life at the Margins: Keeping the Political Vision, his 2011 memoir that chronicles almost 50 years of political activism, starting with his civil rights work in the South and elsewhere in the early 1960s. The U.S. State Department recently sent him to give a series across Germany on the Civil Rights Movement and African-American history and culture generally. The author lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Praise for Paul Robeson For Beginners…
"This absorbing documentary proves again the astounding power of visual narrative when wedded to the life story of a truly unique individual." -- Now Read This!
"Paul Robeson was among the most famous African Americans in the 1930s. A decade later he was frozen out of the national consciousness, and remains half-forgotten, according to Paul von Blum. In his book Paul Robeson for Beginners, the academic-activist seeks to introduce Robeson to generations who know him only, if at all, as the husky voiced singer of “Ol’ Man River” from Show Boat. Although blacklisted during the McCarthy era, Robeson had previously been a celebrity college athlete and star of stage and screen at a time when African Americans were given few roles to play." -- ExpressMilwaukee.com
"Paul Robeson For Beginners . . . [provides] a succinct and superbly presented biographical overview of the life and achievements of a remarkable African-American making it a strongly recommended addition to school and community library African-American Studies and 20th Century American Biography collections and supplemental reading lists." -- Midwest Book Review