Oakland Plans Reception Honoring Actor-Singer-Activist Paul Robeson

by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday April 08, 2008

The City of Oakland will honor the legacy of Paul Robeson—one of the giant figures in American history—with an April 9 City Hall reception on the 110th anniversary of his birth.  

Robeson, the son of a minister escaped from Southern slavery, was a nationally famed athlete, singer, and film and stage actor, but he made his greatest mark as one of the leaders of the protest movement against injustices against African Americans. His protest work bridged the gap between the W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey eras and the beginning of the 1950s-1960s civil rights movement. Robeson spoke in the Bay Area many times during his career, particularly at the University of California, and had many close ties and associations in the area.  

The 5 p.m.-7 p.m. April 9 reception in the rotunda of Oakland City Hall will include speeches by ICLWU Executive Committee member Clarence Thomas and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, an excerpt presentation by English playwright Tayo Aluko of his newly written Paul Robeson play, and a performance by the Vukani Mawethu Southern African choir.  

Oakland's City Hall rotunda is the site of a month-long photo and memorabilia exhibit on Paul Robeson, his life and his accomplishments in sports, art, and protest, which will end April 30. The exhibit is sponsored by the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee.