Paul “Robey” Robeson
Important Facts about “Robey”
- Robey is the nickname given to Paul Robeson by his friends.
- Paul Robeson was one of the great minds and most accomplished and unique artists the twentieth century has produced.
- The first Black man to be named all-American in college football; considered one of the greatest ends in the history of the game.
- An all-round college athlete, star of baseball, basketball, and track.
- An all-round academic genius in college at Rutgers University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and valedictorian of his class.
- One of the first Blacks to play and star in professional football.
- The third Black graduate of Columbia Law School. The first Black lawyer to enter one of New York’s most prestigious law firms.
- One of America’s greatest concert and interpretive artists.
- The first concert artist, along with Roland Hayes, to raise Black spirituals to their rightful place of respect, in the best concert halls of the world.
- The most significant early 20th century Black actor in America of both stage and screen.
- The first Black actor to rise to international prominence in film and bring dignity and respect to Black characters.
- A brilliant scholar of language and world culture, recognized as such by some of the world’s most respected historians; he also studied, spoke, and wrote more than twenty languages, including several African languages, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic.
- An accomplished musicologist
- A symbol of excellence on the American stage.
- The first Black actor to do Othello on Broadway 1943 (298 performances) gave the most memorable performance and profound interpretation of Shakespeare’s Othello in modern times.
- A model for American youth in his prime.
- A worldwide symbol of the artist as activist and spokesman for the poor and oppressed in America and throughout the world.
- An inspiration to the American labor movement.
- American’s first truly Renaissance man- an accomplished singer, actor, activist, athlete, orator, musicologist, scholar and humanitarian.
- An international hero.
- Son of a slave who escaped to freedom at age fifteen.
Source: Robeson, Susan. The Whole World In His Hands. Secaucus: Citadel Press, 1981.