In early stage, screen and radio, very few black actors were able to find respectable dramatic roles. Many roles available to African-American performers were comedic and often disparaging reflecting negative stereotypes at the time. Paul Robeson was one of the first celebrated dramatic African-American actors in theater and film.
Paul Robeson's parents greatly affected his life. William Drew Robeson I was a runaway slave and later graduated from Lincoln University and became a minister. His mother Maria Louisa Bustill was a member of Society of Friends (Quaker), who was a staunch supporter of universal equality. His parents were big proponents of education. Robeson excelled academically and was involved in singing, acting, and athletics at Rutgers University, where he was "tapped" to join the exclusive "Cap and Bones". He could converse, sing and perform in over 20 languages.
He was a staunch supporter of equal rights and once stated "The artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery." Though he did not make many films in the United States, he opened opportunities for other African-American performers including Sidney Pointier. This collection includes the rare recording featuring Paul Robeson's apperance on Magic Key in 1936, an excerpt of his 1959 Othello Performance and a collection of his musical recordings from the 1930-40's.