Paul Robeson

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Paul Robeson was a 20th-century Renaissance man. He was an athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author, and political activist. At seventeen, he was given a scholarship to Rutgers University, where he received an unprecedented 12 major letters in four years and was his class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to Columbia University Law School, and in the early 1920s, took a job with a New York law firm.

Returning to his love of public speaking, Robeson began to find work as an actor. In the mid-1920s he played the lead in Eugene O'Neill's "All God's Chillun Got Wings" (1924) and "The Emperor Jones" (1925). Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, he was a widely acclaimed actor and singer. With songs such as his trademark "Ol' Man River," he became one of the most popular concert singers of his time. More than any other performer of his time, he believed that the famous have a responsibility to fight for justice and peace.