Black Radical Hero: Paul Robeson

For Black History Month this October our Black Radicals Season will celebrate the lives of some of our 100 Radical Heroes, the men and women who believed in ideas worth fighting for.  They dared to challenge convention and believed in the spirit of fairness, co-operation and people power.  They were pioneers who changed history and made life better for ordinary working people. This series of blog posts will highlight their achievements.  We also invite you to nominate your own Black Radical Hero to add to our list.  Tweet us @PHMMcr using the hashtag #blackradicalhero.

Amber Greenhall-Heffernan continues with singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson

All gods chillun Fundraising poster NMLH.2000.10Paul Robeson was an American singer and actor who was in the Civil Rights Movement. He was also a political activist and campaigned for various issues such as anti-fascism in Spain during the Civil War and Welsh miners’ rights in the 1920s.

He became an actor and singer after he was subject to racism in his professions as an athlete and then as a lawyer. He starred in many films and plays, including performances as Othello in London and later on Broadway. He also performed at the Unity Theatre in London in 1937 and in Manchester in 1949. Robeson used his fame as a way of raising awareness for a wide range of social justice issues and his belief in equality for all people.

He was against fascism in Spain, Nazism in Germany, and apartheid in South Africa. He advocated peace between USA and Russia, and said that on his visit to the Soviet Union in the 1930s he felt like he was treated “like a human being for the first time.” He joined the Welsh miners on their hunger marches in 1927 and 1928, and starred as a Welsh miner in the 1940 film Proud Valley.

Robeson’s frequent criticism of the treatment of black people in America led to him being blacklisted by the American government, and because of this he was denied a passport to travel abroad on the grounds that they also suspected he was a communist.

People’s History Museum has a poster for a fundraising matinee that Paul Robeson performed at on display in the main galleries. We also have magazines, theatre programmes and posters relating to Robeson’s career in our Collection.

Black Radicals Events

29 October 2015, Living History - No Bed of Roses @ People's History MuseumThurs 29 October
Living History performance: No Bed of Roses – From the Caribbean to Manchester
Meet Gabrielle and help with her life-changing decision to move from the Caribbean to Manchester in the 1950s.  To celebrate Black History Month.
Family Friendly activity, suitable for over 7s to adults
Booking required via Eventbrite
In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £3
1.15pm – 2.00pm


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