book cover Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen

Edited and with an introduction by Jeffrey C. Stewart
Rutgers University Press
New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London
and The Paul Robeson Cultural Center
Hardcover: $40.00
Softcover: $22.00

Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa Rutgers College graduate who became a world-renowned actor, singer, motion picture star, and America's first African American politicaly engaged performing artist. Coming to maturity during the Harlem Renaissance, Robeson starred in Eugene O'Neill's plays, sang spirituals in concert houses throughout Europe, headlined three productions of Othello, and created enduring roles in such movies as The Emperor Jones (1933), The Song of Freedon (1936), and Proud Valley (1940). But Robeson was also an African American who reacted against negative representations of Blacks in his films Sanders of the River (1935) and Tales of Manhatten (1942) by criticizing racism in the media and ultimately refusing to make more films.

A robust political intellectual, Robeson shaped the Leftist critique of facism, championed the rights of workers and oppressed minorities on his travels around the world, and became one of America's most outspoken critics of racism after World War II. During the Cold War his steadfast defense of the Soviet Union was seized upon by the media, the United States government, and McCarthyites, unfortunately tarnishing his name and achievements. This collection of essays by some of America's most respected scholars and intellectuals--published on the centenary of his birth--is designed to remind contemporary Americans of Robeson's accomplishments and provide a fresh assessment of his contributions.

Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen engages the reader in a discussion of the social, political, and cultural forces that made such a monumental man possible--forces that continue to exist today and which give his life great contemporary significance.

Jeffrey C. Stewart is an associate professor of history at George Mason University. In 1989, he curated the exhibition "To Color America: Portraits by Weinold Reiss" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. He is the author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about African American History and a forthcoming biography of Alain Locke.

Cover photo: Paul Robeson, c. 1933. Photo by Stella Simon, Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox & Tilden Foundation
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