April 12, 2017

We Need to Bring More Attention and Support To Paul Robeson in Princeton Schools, Civic Life

To the Editor:

On April 5, my husband and I had the privilege of attending the Paul Robeson lecture at Rutgers and hearing the renowned performer and activist Harry Belafonte in conversation with Robeson’s granddaughter, documentary filmmaker and producer Susan Robeson. Their stories impressed upon me how thoroughly and deliberately Paul Robeson was erased from the public consciousness for his audacity, particularly as a black man, to use his celebrity and international venues to speak out against racism in the United States and colonialism throughout the world. Unfortunately, in Princeton we have also allowed ignorance of Robeson’s life and contributions to persist in his hometown.

We need to bring more attention to Paul Robeson in Princeton schools and civic life. Fortunately, the Robeson House of Princeton, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is dedicated to restoring the Robeson house and to publicizing his amazing accomplishments. Our community needs to:

1. Support the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, 112 Witherspoon Street;

2. Attend events celebrating him, like the recent April 9 birthday commemoration at the Arts Council;

3. Emphasize his biography, performances, and writings in the Princeton schools, especially in Princeton and United States history classes.

Princeton should be proud to have Paul Robeson as a native son. Acknowledging the mistreatment of the man and his family needs to be part of the town’s and the nation’s truth and reconciliation efforts in coming to terms with racism. Honoring his courage and resolution must be part of our celebration.

Linda Oppenheim

Not In Our Town