Essays On Paul Robeson

Essays On Paul Robeson-63
HNY: So that ability to articulate those experiences, or as Lindsey said, that ability that Baldwin has to summarize so nicely all those things that you’ve been trying to get at, do you think that’s why he’s been resonating so much recently, or why people seem to be rediscovering him lately?

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And Doc and I agree on this a lot, about people’s interpretation of Baldwin, most times people don’t talk about how he preaches about love, and that’s the thing a lot of people seem to miss, that he ended everything with “the only way we’re going to change any of these things is with love.” And he’s known for being so angry, which he was, but he never, in my experience, he never used his anger to put anyone down or to say his point is right and there’s no other point. Baldwin to me articulates what I’ve always been practicing, which is that I know I’ve been through stuff, but it doesn’t matter if that’s all I’m ever going to talk about and preach about and argue about.

And that’s my experience, and what makes me a Baldwin fan, and a Baldwin torchbearer, so to speak.

HNY: You talk in your essay about your initial encounter with Baldwin’s writing, and I’m wondering if there are any other experiences or history that you have reading Baldwin’s work, or moments that stand out to you that might have prompted your desire to share Baldwin with other people, or re-engage with Baldwin yourself.

Lindsey: I was right on my way to grad school and I read a bunch of his work and it really hit me in a powerful way, for one because no one had yet in my intellectual advancement had really talked about Baldwin, and I was amazed because I hadn’t really encountered him before, because he was clearly to me a very important voice, a very powerful voice.

When his passport was returned in 1958, he immediately travelled to Europe again.

In the 1960s, he went into semi-retirement and he died of a stroke on 23 January 1976 in Philadelphia.In January 1938, Robeson visited Spain to support the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. In the audience were Jawaharlal Nehru, his sister Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Krishna Menon who had just come back to London after touring Spain; the four of them became friends, and Robeson and Nehru met on several other occasions.On 27 June 1938, at the India League meeting in Kingsway Hall, Nehru and Robeson spoke on internationalism and the need for unified action against Fascism.Because when I was in high school, I did take African-American history–they just started it for us my senior year–neither Baldwin, nor Paul Robeson, was ever mentioned.Then I went straight to the military at seventeen and I was stationed at Charleston on a ship named after a Confederate general.He had discussed his views on the Soviet Union with other English socialists such as Harold Laski and George Bernard Shaw.Now in the United States, Robeson continued his socialist agitations and with the onset of the Cold War he was under surveillance, his passport was revoked and he was called before the Un-American Activities Committee.I couldn’t say it as eloquently as he had; I don’t think anyone can really.There were a lot of parallels in Baldwin’s life to my life, like being the oldest and growing up in a religious home, kind of not fitting in, and he expressed that.In 1922 he married his life-long partner Eslanda 'Essie' Cardozo Goode, and the following year he graduated from Columbia.Robeson launched his acting career in 1920 - a career that brought him to London in 1922, and again in 1925 to star in the Eugene O'Neill Play, , respectively.


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