Continues activities on behalf of the war effort, appearing at bond
rallies and participating in programs for the Office of War Information
and the War Production Board.
Is made honorary member of State, County & Municipal Workers of
Appears in the special sports stars’ radio broadcast on behalf of the
Fourth War Bond Drive. His fellow speakers are Babe Ruth and Jack
Cancels recital in Baltimore because Lyric Theatre is
March 12, 1944
Speaks at Sun Yat-Sen Day Tribute, at Metropolitan Opera House, New
York City. (Foner)
April 2, 1944
Receives award from National Federation for Constitutional Liberties,
for his “outstanding contribution toward building international unity
within our country and throughout the world.” The awards dinner is held
at the Roosevelt Hotel, New York, with 800 in attendance.
April 14, 1944
Presides at “Conference on Africa---New Perspectives,” at the Institute
for International Democracy, New York City, under auspices of Council
on African Affairs, organized to draft program for Africa’s post-war
liberation and advancement. (Foner)
April 16, 1944
Celebration of Robeson’s 46th birthday and the anniversary of the
Council on African Affairs, at the Armory in New York, is attended by
12,000, with 4,000 more being turned away for lack of space. Robeson
urges audience to exert pressure on US government to intervene on
behalf of freedom and self-government for African countries, saying, in
part, “It is impossible to keep 150 million Africans in slavery and
think we can be free here.” Five hours of entertainment include Count
Basie and his band, Jimmy Durante, W.C. Handy, Mary Lou Williams and
Duke Ellington and his orchestra, Hazel Scott, Josh White, Pearl
Primus, Howard DaSilva and Zero Mostel. Many celebrities speak in
praise of Robeson, and hundreds more send messages, some of which are
read at the event. Mary McLeod Bethune’s greeting hails Robeson as “the
tallest tree in our forest.”
· Is made honorary member of International Fur and Leather Workers’
Union at its biennial convention, "In recognition of your magnificent
contribution to the struggle of humanity, particularly the Negro
people, against oppression, intolerance, reaction and fascism, for
liberty, equality and progress of all mankind.".
· Article entitled “America’s No. 1 Negro,” in American Magazine, says:
“Paul Robeson broke the back of prejudice to command recognition as a
football star, lawyer, concert singer and actor. Today he has won top
triumphs for his magnificent portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello.”
May 8, 1944
State, County and Municipal Workers, CIO, establishes Paul Robeson
Scholarship Fund at New York University, to educate black students in
May 20, 1944
Is awarded the Gold Medal for the best diction in American theater,
presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Robeson, together with Mary McLeod Bethune, Robert C. Weaver, William
H. Hastie, Canada Lee and many other Black leaders and sympathetic
white trade unionists, form a Citizens’ Political Action Committee, an
affiliate of the CIO.
July 4, 1944
Receives Billboard magazine’s coveted Donaldson Award for the best
acting performance in 1944, for his role in Othello.
Begins 36-week, US-Canada tour of Othello, playing in 45 cities, with
Southern states omitted, except for Negro colleges and integrated
audiences. Receives rave reviews everywhere.
Stomps for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s re-election campaign.
Plays Othello to 4,000 at Shrine Auditorium, Des Moines, IA.
December 15, 1944
In letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State
Edward Stettinius, referring to the nascent United Nations, urges that
“the promotion of the welfare of the millions of Africans and other
dependent peoples of the world must be an integral part of the
international organization’s program and function” and that the
organization “make adequate provision for the progressive advancement
of the peoples of Africa so that they may play their full part in a
system of world-wide democracy and prosperity.” (Foner)
· Receives citation from National Negro Museum and Historical
Foundation “for courage and devotion to the ideals upon which American
democracy was founded.”
· Speaks and sings at World Freedom Rally, at Madison Square Garden,
New York City.
February 19, 1945
Opens in Othello at Geary Theatre, San Francisco. On many evenings
following the performance, drops in at the CIO Canteen, the only
non-segregated one in town, to chat with and sing to the servicemen.
March 25, 1945
Sings and speaks at a Unity Rally, at Civic Auditorium, San Francisco.
March 29, 1945
Sings and speaks to ILWU Convention in San Francisco. (Foner)
· Wins award from Negro Newspaper Publishers’ Association.
· Gives benefit concert at Lincoln Auditorium, Syracuse, NY, sponsored
by New York State Nurses’ Association.
· Becomes Co-Chairman of the National Committee to Win the Peace.
April 10-May 19, 1945
Othello at Erlanger Theatre in Chicago, receiving rave reviews from
theater critics. While there, manages to also make several political
appearances, speaks to the students and faculty at the University of
Chicago and at several local high schools, and spends the five Sunday
mornings speaking and singing at both Black and white churches and at
April 22, 1945
at Temple Shalom, Chicago, reporting on the United
conference then being held in San Francisco.
at the memorial tribute to President Franklin Delano
(d. April 12, 1945), sponsored by the Independent Citizens’ Committee
of the Arts, Sciences and Professions, Chicago. Begins speech by
reading Carl Sandburg’s
ode to Roosevelt.
April 27, 1945
Is featured speaker at United Nations Day event in Chicago sponsored by
United Packinghouse Workers (CIO), with 5,000 in attendance.
Sings and speaks at assembly at Austin High school, Chicago,
for the “7th War Loan Sendoff.”
May 10, 1945
Speaks at luncheon of Chicago Chapter of National Lawyers Guild, with
300 members attending.
Attends membership meeting of United Auto Workers Local 453, Chicago,
and is made honorary member.
May 15, 1945
Is guest speaker at all-campus rally, at the University of Chicago, on
the importance of the United Nations Conference.
May 19, 1945
Reports back on United Nations Conference on International
Organization, held in San Francisco, to a meeting sponsored by the
South Side Committee on African and Colonial Affairs, Chicago.
June 6, 1945
Receives Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Howard University,
Washington, DC. At ceremony, sings Ballad for Americans.
June 17, 1945
Speaks on "The United Nations on the March," at tribute to Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, sponsored by the Du Sable Lodge, International
Workers Order, Chicago.
Sings and speaks at 7th War Bond Rally, Morrison Hotel, Chicago.
June 20, 1945
Sings and speaks to stockyard workers at Wilson Meat Packing Plant,
June 25, 1945
Sings and speaks at Madison Square Garden Rally for a permanent Fair
Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), against poll tax, and for
elimination of other obstacles to equality for African American people.
· Speaks and sings at peace rally sponsored by Mine, Mill and Smelter
Workers Union (CIO) at Apex Smelting Company, Chicago.
· Goes to Europe, as part of first interracial overseas USO-sponsored
camp show for troops, in a month-long tour of 32 appearances. Is deeply
disturbed by visits to sites of Nazi concentration camps and by the
Allies’ hostility to the Soviet Union.
Publishes article, “Some Reflections on Othello and the Nature of Our
Time,” in The American Scholar, official journal of Phi Beta Kappa, his
fraternity while at Rutgers University.
Begins 7-month national concert tour, with Lawrence Brown.
Is awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal, “for the highest achievement
of an American Negro,” the top honor given each year by NAACP. At
ceremony, held at the Biltmore Hotel, in NYC, NAACP Secretary Walter
White, says, “No honest American, white or Negro, can sit in judgment
of a man like Robeson unless and until he has sacrificed time, talent,
money and popularity in doing the utmost to root out the racial and
economical evils which infuriate men like Robeson.” Robeson shocks his
audience of 700 when he suggests that the United States should seek
peaceful coexistence with the USSR and the "creation of a world where
people, whether white or black or brown, can live in peace and harmony
and where resources can be used for the good of all, for the
advancement of mankind."
November 14, 1945
Speaks at World Freedom Rally at Madison Square Garden, sponsored by
the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship.
November 25, 1945
Speaks at meeting of the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Central
Conference of American Rabbis, in New York.