Here I Stand

Here I Stand

Paul Robeson

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 0807064459

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Robeson's international achievements as a singer and actor in starring roles on stage and screen made him the most celebrated black American of his day, but his outspoken criticism of racism in the United States, his strong support of African independence, and his fascination with the Soviet Union placed him under the debilitating scrutiny of McCarthyism. Blacklisted, his famed voice silenced, Here I Stand offered a bold answer to his accusers. It remains today a defiant challenge to the prevailing fear and racism that continues to characterize American society.

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and their children constituted almost the entire black population of America, a population not yet differentiated along class lines. Not surprisingly, Robeson’s commencement address at Rutgers, which is not treated in Here I Stand, gave serious consideration to the liberation of the masses of blacks, and argued that his loyalty to them was sacred. At a family reunion in Philadelphia in 1918, he spoke on “Loyalty to Convictions”: “That I chose this topic was not accidental, for that was the text

particularly through folk music, and these connections had political consequences of which he became increasingly conscious. Just as he saw the need for blacks to have allies in America, he saw possibilities for alliances of the oppressed across geographical and racial boundaries. Robeson, of course, enjoyed remarkable successes on the concert stages of the British Isles and Europe and won new acclaim as an actor in the theater and in films, especially in Showboat and in Othello. It was in these

Nonsense! This is a triumph for the whole human race, a great new breakthrough of science and technology which are the tools for a better life for us all. No doubt there are some brink-of-war statesmen and some jingoistic generals who have heard in the “beep beep” of the sputniks a message to themselves—“Little men, you’d better forget your crazy plans for war!”—and if that is the way they understand it, it’s all to the good. Wise men and fools alike can see that a new star of peace has arisen

enemy is racism, and they brand that enemy as the foe of human progress. Sputnik, they say, was produced by a school system which includes people of all races, and they charge that Jim Crow practices here, which bar most Negro children from an equal education, are also a barrier in America’s path to new heights of scientific achievement. So, hello up there, little Sputnik—thanks a million for the message my people have gotten from you! I’m sure it is going to do us a lot of good. Peace—yes,

intrigued me, and I pursued it along many fascinating paths. My people, the Negro people of America, have been reared on the pentatonic scale and pentatonic melodies, in Africa and in America. No wonder Lawrence Brown introduced me to the music of Moussorgsky (of the Russian “Five”); to the music of Dvorak and Janacek; to ancient Hebraic chants; to the old melodies of Scotland and Ireland; to the Flamenco and de Falla of Spain; to the music of Armenia, and of Albania, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary

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