For Black History Month 2019, MetroMorphosis will do weekly tributes to African American figures and/or movements that align with the core principles of our organization and its programming. Focusing on the pillars of social advocacy (Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge), education (Our Schools Our Excellence), economic empowerment (Launch BR) and urban transformation (MetroMorphosis in general), these posts will highlight past and present Black contributors to culture.
Today’s spotlight is on Paul Robeson (1898-1976), who was known as “Black Superman” for his multitude of accomplishments and successful careers. Robeson, a lawyer, actor, civil rights activist, singer and football player, starred in both stage and film versions of The Emperor Jones and Show Boat, and established an immensely popular screen and singing career of international proportions. Among a slew of other acting accomplishments, Robeson played the lead character in Shakespeare’s Othello in 1930 and was celebrated as an incredible vocalist with the ability to sing in 25 different languages. Educated at Columbia University Law School and Rutgers University, Robeson broke down institutional barriers as a Black scholar in the early 20th century. His work as an activist included regularly speaking out against racial injustice and was involving himself in world politics. He supported Pan-Africanism, sang for Loyalist soldiers during Spain’s civil war, took part in anti-Nazi demonstrations and performed for Allied forces during WWII.
“Black Superman” Paul Robeson
Robeson’s legacy of leadership, activism and being a voice for the voiceless can be found in the fiber of many present day African American social advocates. A part of the work of MetroMorphosis’ Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge is to give African American men and boys the necessary resources, tools and platforms to enhance their qualities of life so that they might be able to be viable assets in their communities, in the same way Paul Robeson was to Black Americans as a whole. That work of the Urban Congress is amplified in programs such as the Barbershop Talks specifically geared to Black male dialogue in Baton Rouge. There’s a series of talks coming up Monday, February 18th. We hope that you join us!
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