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.