Paul Robeson Paul Robeson as a scholar and athlete was a two-time All-American in football and baseball, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and valedictorian of his high school and college class. As an entertainer he starred in eleven movies, five Broadway musicals, and sang in sold out concerts throughout the world in twenty-five different languages. As a statesman he became known as the "citizen of the world," who spoke out whenever he saw social or racial injustices in any country, and spent his last years working with Albert Einstein to bring world peace. This magnificent African-American was able to do all these things during a time in America when most African-Americans were denied service at a local restaurant. "He was Michael Jordan before there was a Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson before Michael Jackson. He was also Muhammad Ali. He was the most famous, talented, and outspoken black person in the world, but today many don't really know him at all." (1999, Kane) After excelling in high school, Paul Robeson went to Rutgers College on a four-year academic scholarship. While attending Rutgers he played football, baseball, basketball, and participated in track earning himself fifteen varsity letters. Robeson was a two-time All-American in football and baseball in 1917 and 1918. During his four years at Rutgers he also was elected to all the school's honor societies, which included being one of only four classmates selected to the Phi Beta Kappa his junior year. In 1919, his senior year at Rutgers, Robeson's hard work earned him the honor of being the valedictorian of his class. The speech he gave was full of wisdom beyond his years and time. He titled his speech "The New Idealism," in which he advocated to a majority white... ...eople died to build this country, and I am going to stay right here and have a part in it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?" With those words Robeson made a decision that would determine his fate. He chose his principles and morals over his fame and fortune. After his trial, people were afraid to agree with him because they could be labeled a communist. Undaunted Robeson would continue to sing and speak out for all oppressed people, but sadly lost all real support in the U.S. Paul Robeson was a genuine renaissance man. He was a brilliant scholar, accomplished athlete, dazzling singer, gifted actor, and an outspoken statesman. "Living life to its fullest" does not come close to describing the achievements that Robeson accomplished in his lifetime. There are few men that can compare to him and few men that ever will.
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