Voices Radio – Eric recounts Paul the dynamic and revolutionary work of Paul Robeson.
Please Contribute $250 to KPFK today from 2 to 3 and receive, as a premium, the amazing 4 DVD box set from Criterion, Paul Robeson, Portraits of the Artist. Watch the films, watch his majesty, purchase another copy for friends for the holidays.
Today at 2 PM October 1 on Voices from the Frontlines, KPFK 90.7 FM note special time 2 PM.
Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist.
We are thrilled to offer this 4 DVD Box Sets of his films for a $250 premium to support the work of KPFK and Voices from the Frontlines. We will also be offering one of my two books, Playbook for Progressives or Katrina’s Legacy for a $100 premium and all 3 for $350. Please stretch to get at least the DVD box set which is in itself worth the money on its own terms besides supporting Voices from the Frontlines and KPFK, truly the best radio station in L.A. by far.
Paul Robeson was a person of such magnitude that even as a writer it is hard to find the right words to describe him. Scholar, athlete, film star, baritone singer from heaven, Pan Africanist, Black fighter, pro-communist, a friend of working and oppressed people all over the world, he was a political prisoner inside his own racist country when he said that “Black people in the U.S. will not fight in a war against the Soviet Union.” He and W.E.B. DuBois, two of the greatest geniuses in world history, fought the color line and U.S. imperialism their entire lives and were punished unmercifully by the U.S. government for their proletarian internationalism.
Robeson, tall, dark, and handsome, was a striking figure. He was the son of a preacher, the first Black man admitted to Rutgers University where, after vicious racist hazing, he made the team, carried the team on his back, and was vote an All American. Despite all the hypocrisy of the NCAA’s myth of the student athlete, Robeson was also a Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to Columbia Law School where he received a law degree. By the 1930s in the world war for socialism against fascism, Robeson was a towering figure, lending his voice in spoken word, folk songs, and opera, to the victorious struggle against fascism— led by the Soviet Union in which the United States was a passive, vacillatory, and treacherous ally. When after the war, the U.S. turned on the Soviet Union and world communism, Robeson spoke out and was declared a traitor, banned from performing, and held prisoner inside the U.S. as the U.S. government seized his passport.
For those of us struggling to be free today, we are blessed to know of let alone know Paul Robeson. I urge you to also read his wonderful book of resistance, Here I Stand, where Paul speaks in his own words eloquent and defiant to his last breath.
This is a 4 box set of his films. In an amazing documentary on his life, many Black revolutionaries and Robeson himself saw many of these films as ultimately demeaning to him, as he tried within those stereotypes to elevate the race but Hollywood often got the last white laugh. Still, each film should be watched in great detail to just see the magnificence of the man inside those shackles that he later broke through by his leadership of the Black Liberation struggle inside the U.S. and his amazing work as a Pan African spokesperson. He spoke every language under the sun and in preparing for concerts all over the world he learned languages in a few weeks. But his favorite languages and people were the Africans. In early 1934 Robeson enrolled in the School of Oriental and African Studies, a constituent college of the University of London, where he studied Phonetics, Swahili and other African languages. His growing interest in African history and its impact on culture was influenced by African revolutionaries in England reflected in his essay “I Want to be African” where he rejected U.S. and European colonialism and his own internalized oppression by fully embracing his ancestry.
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