Sunday, April 9, 2017

In Honour of Paul Robeson's Birthday - Music and Resistance

Once he did not exist
But his voice was there, waiting 

- Pablo Neruda, Ode to Paul Robeson

Today is the 119th birthday of one of the towering figures of 20th Century American musical and political history, Paul Robeson.

Despite his groundbreaking work on the stage and in film during the Jim Crow era, despite his  astonishing talent as a singer and despite his lifelong work and struggle against American institutionalized racism and capitalism, he has been largely written out of this history due to his dedicated commitment to the cause of Communism and broader human liberation as well as his steadfast opposition to American imperialism.

Robeson is a genuine hero who was a man of tremendous personal courage. He was also a "Renaissance Man" who was a giant in any number of artistic, sporting and intellectual disciplines and pursuits.

There have been few figures like Paul Robeson.

Robeson stood in the streets of Republican Spain as it faced the Fascist counterrevolution, he refused to bend during the dark days of McCarthyism and he never wavered in  his principles from opposing the war in Vietnam to ending colonialism.

In 1973, on the occasion of his 75th birthday a group of prominent Americans ranging from Dizzy Gillespie to Pete Seeger to Harry Belafonte organized to celebrate the man and his work. Part of this included the publication of a retrospective about him and his incredible story.

Here we look at some of the most notable and memorable parts of this book as well as at some of his stirring and moving musical performances. And we also see the statements of respect and solidarity that came from around the world.

A luta continua, vitória é certa!

(click on images to enlarge)

Because you sing,
they know that the sea exists
and that the sea sings.

They know that the sea is free, wide and full of flowers
as your voice, my brother

The sun is ours. The earth will be ours.
Tower of the sea, you will go on singing.

Pablo Neruda, Ode to Paul Robeson

No comments:

Post a Comment