Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration
Resources About Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Proposals for Educational Activities
Celebrating the Life and Contributions of Paul Robeson
Centennial Anniversary of His Birth
The proposal below was modeled on one presented to the Philadelphia Board of
Education. You can easily customize it for your city.
- Our main task is to introduce students and staff to the contributions of
Paul Robeson. We would like his life and many contributions to be celebrated:
- Music--Robeson sang to celebrate the lives of people around
the world as they sang about their lives, their work, and their struggles for peace
- Theater--Robeson acted on the stages of the USA and Europe and received acclaim for his portrayal of both the common man and kings.
- Civil Rights--Robeson was on the front lines of the fight for civil rights. He refused to sing in segregated concert halls. He introduced the world to many songs celebrating the lives and struggles of the African-American people.
- Peace--Paul Robeson was a part of the people's struggles for peace around the world. He sang on the front lines of the battlefield in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and at international gatherings dedicated to world peace.
- Labor--Robeson dedicated his music to the workers of the world. Many of his songs spoke of the work and struggles of both organized and unorganized workers.
- Democracy--Robeson was a victim of the McCarthy-era attacks on progressive activists. For eight years, he was denied his passport and was unable to travel. Attacks on his politics caused the cancellation of most of his concerts in the United States.
- Sports--Paul Robeson was a great athlete and won many sports awards. Due to racism, however, he received some of his awards only with the struggles of his supporters.
- Suggested activities to feature Paul Robeson:
- Develop materials that incorporate and highlight Paul Robeson's accomplishments. These materials would be disseminated to all schools.
- The Board of Education could feature a seminar on Robeson for teachers and the community.
- The Board of Education could distribute bibliographies and resource lists about Robeson and could help in the effort to get biographies about him into schools.
- The Board of Education could sponsor citywide contests with well-known
judges from the writing and cultural community. These contests could feature
essays, speeches, and visual art about Robeson. Another possibility is the
design of a Robeson stamp that could be sold or distributed by students.
- The Board of Education's newspaper could have a full-page article in
February (African-American History Month) or April (Robeson was born on April
9). The article could be an educational piece to help teachers introduce
Robeson's work and contributions to students, parents, and other teachers.
Curriculum suggestions and a pull-out photograph could be included. Regional
Robeson activities could be listed.
- School history departments could encourage students to develop timelines
on Paul Robeson's activities in our city. Oral histories of people who knew
Robeson or of those who participated in movements that he represented would be
an invaluable contribution.
- Efforts to name a school for Paul Robeson:
An effort will be launched to rename (insert name of school) the Paul Robeson School. The campaign to rename the school will do much to publicize Paul Robeson's life.
Return to the Robeson Centennial home page
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