Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Undiscovered Paul Robeson" by Paul Robeson Jr

(Please excuse the ranting, raging, and stream of consciousness thoughts, which is when a writer writes whatever he is thinking about in no particular order.)

Let's play a game. How many of these Civil Rights Giants can you name and state their influence or what they did during or before the Civil Rights Movement?



# 4

I will not insult anyone by giving the details of numbers 1 or 2, we all know that #1 is Dr. King and Malcolm X, and #2 is Rosa Parks. I will not waste your time by telling you their significances or influences during the Civil Rights Movement (If you don't know, where the hell have you been? These people are just about the only people talked about during Black History Month).

I will cut you some slack with #3 (But why should I do that? He is still living. He is a US Congressman. He did risk his life several times during the Civil Rights Movement). Anyway, #3 is John Lewis, US Congressman.

#4 is Paul Robeson who was an influential African American singer, actor, and social activist. (Why the hell do I know so little about this man?" It behooves me!!! I've attended elementary, middle, and high school, a historically Black college, and two majority White Universities, please tell me why this man was left out?)

Last summer at my training to teach Advance Placement Literature (AP Literature), one of our guest was an author. He mentioned the book The Undiscovered Paul Robeson by Paul Robeson Jr, and you know me, I instantly downloaded this book.

Well, it has taken me a WHOLE year to get to this book, and I sure am happy, sad, and mad that I read this book. Happy that I discovered Paul Robeson, sad that he is not a household name, and mad that I had to discover him.

In this novel, Paul Robeson Jr. gives detail accounts of his father's life. He attended the majority White Rutgers University in 1915 where he excelled academically and in football. He attended Columbia Law School, while playing professional football and pursing an acting career (Please tell me how he did all of this with a family, and today we are complaining about....................).

His acting and singing career really took off, and he was literally in demand around the globe. He played the part of Othello in the play Othello and established himself as a great Shakespearean actor. His great voice captivated people everywhere that he sang. He is most famous for singing Ol' Man River. (Click on the link below to enjoy his wonderful voice.)

However, all of those accomplishments are great, but his main platform became Civil Rights and not just Blacks in American Civil Rights, but he spoke about Civil Rights in the world, which caused him to be constantly watched by the government, denied a passport, and eventually led to him being severely depressed and having bouts with mental illness.

Now, I pride myself on knowing "The People" and this novel added so much insight to a man whom I practically knew nothing about. (I am happy that I was on a plane when I finished this book or else I would have let out a loud howl that would have been heard around the world).

I really applaud Paul Robeson Jr. who thought enough about his father to write his story and write it with dignity. (If I were his daughter, I'm not sure if I would have been able to control my anger long enough to write this book. I would have been thinking "How dare they leave my Giant of a father out of American History?" As stated by Bill Cosby "Come on, People!")

So, if you are new to Paul Robeson like I am, please read this book and any other books that you find about this incredible man.

Now that I know and you know, we must make it our business to make sure that other people know.

I hope that my ranting and raging was not distracting, but I'm just saying......

Paul Robeson as Othello

Paul Robeson doing what he loved to do: Sing

What an awesome man with an awesome story!


Tracy Ricks said...

WOW!!! Speechless!! Thanks for sharing!

Carole said...

Jacqueline, I had never known much about him before! Thanks for linking up with Your Favourite Biographies

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