PAUL ROBESON — scholar, celebrated actor, concert artist, all-American football player, and Rutgers University alumnus (class of 1919), who became famous for his cultural achievements and political activism — will be the subject of a program exploring his connections to the Jewish community, left-wing political movements, and the Soviet Union on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. at Douglass Student Center, New Brunswick.
“Paul Robeson, ‘Negro-Jewish Unity,’ and the ‘Jewish People’s Movement’ in the 1940s: Legacy and Challenges” is the Raoul Wallenberg Annual Program; sponsored by Rutgers’ Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, it is funded by Leon and Toby Cooperman and cosponsored by the Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration at Rutgers.
Robeson, a communist, was active in building a popular anti-fascist movement among Jews and an alliance between American Jews and African-Americans. He contributed to this effort through his songs in Yiddish and Hebrew and his endorsement of Jewish causes, including support for the State of Israel. Robeson’s defense of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, the subjugation of Eastern Europe, and the crushing of Soviet-Jewish culture, however, challenges the legacy of his commitment to universal human rights.
The leading historians who will lead a panel discussion are: program moderator David Greenberg, professor of history and journalism and media studies, Rutgers University; Tony Michels, George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ronald Radosh, professor emeritus of history, City University of New York; and Jennifer Young, a public historian and former director of education for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.