Shirley Graham publishes Paul
Robeson: Citizen of the World, a biography written for young people.
January 7, 1946
with Marian Anderson, at rally for South African famine relief held
under auspices of Council on African Affairs at Abyssinian Baptist
Gives concert at Oak Park-River forest High School, Oak Park,
January 20, 1946
Sharing the stage with Cab Calloway, performs at mass rally, at DuSable
High School, Chicago, in support of striking Packinghouse
January 23, 1946
Together with Albert Einstein, speaks and sings at mass rally in
Madison, WI, on behalf of refugees in Spain.
Sings and speaks in Seattle,
in program jointly sponsored by the Spanish Refugee Appeal and the
Council on African Affairs.
March 5, 1946
Sings and speaks at San
Francisco Opera House, accompanied by Lawrence Brown.
In his current town of residence, Enfield, CT, sings to audience of 900
at Enfield High School, as benefit for the Enfield Teachers
Association’s fund for needy students.
5, 6, 7, 1946
Plays Othello at Denver
Gives concert at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, with 2,390 in
· Sings and speaks at the Win the Peace Rally, at Orchestra Hall,
and speaks at testimonial dinner honoring Japanese-American war dead,
held at Stevens Hotel, Chicago, 1,000 in attendance.
May 31, 1946
Speaks and sings to 10th
Annual Convention of the National Negro Congress, in Detroit.
June 3, 1946
As Chairman of Council on
African Affairs, publishes, in The New York
Times, a statement entitled “A Message to America and the United
Nations.” Calls for the admission of all African nations to the UN and
poses some crucial questions: “Will the Union of South Africa’s
legalized fascist-like practice of racial oppression be outlawed and
that state’s mandate over South West Africa be revoked…and will America
help free Africa? Or will it seek instead a larger share of the profits
squeezed out of Africa’s oppressed people? America must answer!” (Foner)
June 5, 1946
· Publishes article,
“Africa--Continent in Bondage,” in the New York Herald-Tribune. (Foner)
· Publishes article, “Food
and Freedom for Africa,” in the Daily Worker. (Foner)
June 6, 1946
Speaks at mass meeting “for
African freedom” before 16,000 people at
Madison Square Garden sponsored by Council on African Affairs, with
many prominent Americans in attendance, including Mary McLeod Bethune,
Norman Corwin, Judy Holliday, Lena Horne, and many more sending cables
of support. Funds raised at the event are contributed to South African
Famine Relief. (Foner)
June 23, 1946
Speaks at New York State
meeting of United Public Workers' Biennial Convention.
July 12, 1946
Sings at 7th
Annual American Music Festival, as benefit for the Cook County Veterans
Association, at White Sox Park, Chicago.
July 17, 1946
Joins picket line in support
of Dodge workers’ strike in Windsor, Ontario, singing to them and inspiring them
to persist until their just demands are met.
July 28, 1946
As Chairman of Council on
African Affairs, sends telegram to President
Truman on the lynching of four African Americans in Georgia, demanding
“that the Federal Government take immediate effective steps to
apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this shocking crime and to
halt the rising tide of lynch law. Only when our government has taken
such action toward protecting its own citizens can its role in aiding
the progress of peoples of other countries be viewed with trust and
As Chairman of Council on
African Affairs, organizes large picket line
in front of South African Consulate to protest that government’s racist
laws and the brutal massacre of South African miners during their
historic strike. Also appeals to the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights, calling for investigation of racism in South Africa, to be
followed by appropriate action by the Security Council.
September 4, 1946
Performs, along with
Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and others, in benefit for the National Negro
September 6, 1946
In a Letter to the Editor,
published in The New York Times, referring
to apartheid, appeals “to my fellow Americans to make known their
protest against such conditions to the South African Ministry in
Washington; to send to the Council on African Affairs…an expression of
support for these grievously oppressed workers in South Africa; to keep
the South African situation in mind against the time when General Smuts
will come to the United Nations Assembly…to demand the annexation of
South West Africa, which means more Africans for him to exploit.”
September 12, 1946
Speaks at massive rally
against lynching, at Madison Square Garden,
saying, in part, that the recent upsurge of lynching in the South
“represents the ultimate limit of bestial brutality to which the
enemies of democracy, be they German Nazis or American Ku Kluxers, are
ready to go in imposing their will….What about it, President Truman?
Why have you failed to speak out against this evil? When will the
federal government take effective action to uphold our constitutional
guarantees?….The leaders of this country can call out the Army and Navy
to stop the railroad workers and the maritime workers----why can’t they
stop the lynchers?” (Foner)
September 23, 1946
a protest of 3,000, at the Lincoln Memorial, for the American
Crusade to End Lynching, a coalition of some fifty organizations from
thirty-eight states and dozens of celebrities, including Albert
Einstein. Following the rally, leads a multi-racial delegation to the
White House to present a legislative and educational program to
President Truman aimed at ending mob violence; demands that lynchers be
prosecuted and calls on Congress to enact a federal anti-lynching law.
Warns Truman that if the government doesn't do something to end
lynching, "the Negroes will," and points out that the United States
cannot logically take the lead in prosecuting Nazis at the Nuremberg
War Crimes Trial while permitting African Americans to be lynched at
home. Truman rejects the program and refuses Robeson's request for him
to issue a formal public statement against lynching, using the excuse
that it is not "the right time" for such action, meaning, in reality,
that it would not be politically expedient. Robeson also gives address
on radio, calling on all Americans of all races to demand that Congress
pass laws to end the national disgrace of mob murder. (Foner)
Is elected Vice President of
Civil Rights Congress.
Spends the month on the West Coast, speaking on radio, at community
meetings, in churches and to a variety of union gatherings: to striking
maritime workers on the Oakland waterfront, to the CIO in San
Francisco, to Dishwashers’ Local 110, to Shipscalers & Painters
Local 10 in Seattle, to the Marine Cooks & Stewards Union in
Angeles, to the ILWU.
October 7, 1946
Is questioned for several
hours by the Joint Fact-Finding Committee on
Un-American Activities (Tenney Committee), in California, for his
activism on behalf of civil rights, labor rights and world peace.
States that he is not a Communist and describes himself as an
independent anti-Fascist and criticizes treatment of African Americans.
Afterwards, decides that he will, as a matter of principle, never again
answer that question. Following his appearance before the Committee,
many concert halls are closed to him. (Foner)
October 10, 1946
Speaks, as co-Chairman of
National Committee to Win the Peace, at
waterfront strike meeting in San Francisco, under auspices of Committee
for Maritime Unity.
November 13, 1946
Gives concert at Temple
Is guest of honor at Founders Day Luncheon, on proposed home grounds of
the DuSable community Center, Chicago.
November 19, 1946
Gives concert at the Armory, in Duluth, MN.
December 6, 1946
As Chairman of Council on
African Affairs, sends letter to the US
Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, criticizing
the US for not giving unqualified rejection of the proposal to annex
South West Africa to the Union of South Africa, as well as for not
supporting the Indian government’s complaint regarding discrimination
against Indians in South Africa in clear violation of the United
Nations Charter principles on racial equality. (Foner)
Addresses Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, criticizing Western imperialism
and discussing the possibility of a new third party
Testimonial dinner in
Robeson’s honor, sponsored by Local 600, UAW in Detroit
Gives concert at Orchestra Hall, Chicago.
Speaking at a dinner given in his honor by the Detroit chapter of the
National Negro Congress, announces his departure from the theater and
concert stage in order to dedicate himself to the political struggle.
States, in part, “The rich think they can stop the progress of the
Negro people by taking one here and another there and lifting them up.
They are very wrong. We Negroes stand with all other workers. I must
take my artistic work away from its special place, back to the working
people, to tie up my personal side with the cultural side of the
January 26, 1947
In St. Louis, joins picket
line in front of Kiel Auditorium to protest
racial segregation at the city’s theaters. Announces intention at
conclusion of current tour to leave the professional theater and
concert stage for the next two years in order to “talk up and down the
nation against race hatred and prejudice,” and to sing only for unions,
colleges and progressive causes. Tells
reporters, “Some of us will have to speak up and appeal to the people
to respect the common rights of others. It seems that I must raise my
voice, but not just by singing pretty songs.”
Goes on 4-month cross-country
concert tour, with Lawrence Brown.
Pickets, with Earl Robinson,
against segregation at Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC.
February 18-22, 1947
Performs concert series at
Moore Theatre, New York City.
sings “Ballad of Joe Hill” to capacity audience at the University of
Utah, in Salt Lake City, where the great labor leader Joe Hill was
murdered by “the copper bosses.” This being the first time the song is
sung on a local stage, the audience of 2,000 is stunned that a black
man would dare to fling the charge of “murderer” at the “copper bosses”
on their own turf. When the thunderous applause finally subsides,
Robeson steps to the front of the stage and announces, “I’m retiring
here and now from concert work---I shall sing, from now on, only at
gatherings where I can sing what I please.”
March 7, 1947
Sings at Auditorium Theatre,
March 28, 1947
to over 700 at meeting of the National Negro Congress, held in San
Prevented from appearing in Peoria,
Illinois, when Shriners cancel contract for use of Shriner Mosque, City
Council passes a resolution barring Robeson because “no avowed or
active propagandist for un-American ideologies should appear in the
city” and mayor refuses to allow use of City Hall for concert. This
marks the first time an attempt is made to deprive people of their
right to assemble to hear Robeson. He asks reporters, “Since when in
America does a city dare to keep an artist out because of his political
opinions?” Tells them, “I have been all over the world, and the only
time I have seen hysteria reach these heights was in Spain under Franco
and Germany under Hitler.” This type of anti-democratic action against
Robeson quickly spreads to other US cities.
April 21, 1947
Speaks and sings at meeting
sponsored by American Youth for Democracy, Chicago.
April 27, 1947
Addresses and sings to 3,500
at “Chicago Salutes Paul Robeson,” at the
Civic Opera House, with Lena Horne and others paying tribute to
Robeson, under auspices of the Abraham Lincoln School for Social
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
awards him its Alpha Medallion for his “outstanding role as a champion
May 9, 1947
After Board of Education of Albany, New York, cancels permission for
Robeson concert at a local high school, mass public pressure induces
Supreme Court Justice to order that the school be made available. By
now, the ruling circles in the US have become so fearful of his
influence on the masses of people, particularly the youth, that the
judge imposes the restriction that he may only sing, but not speak, at
the concert. Ignoring the American Legion’s call for a boycott of the
performance and their picketing o the building, 1,100 attend the
May 14, 1947
Sings and speaks at rally for
Henry A. Wallace, presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, at
Chicago Stadium, with 22,000 in attendance.
May 16, 1947
Publishes article, “African Workers Are Revealed as ‘Least Privileged
of All Mankind’,” in The Dispatcher.
· Gives four concerts in
Panama for United Public Workers, Local 713,
who are trying to organize Panamanian workers, predominantly Blacks.
Ten thousand turn out. Donates proceeds from several subsequent
concerts to establish a scholarship fund to educate Black teachers in
· Sings to capacity house at Symphony Hall in Boston.
· Speaks at Southern Negro Youth Congress, Miami, FL.
· Speaks to 2,500 at Manhattan Center, New York City, at rally
protesting investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
June 29, 1947
Speaks and sings benefit
concert for Local 22, Food & Tobacco
Workers, mainly Blacks, in Winston-Salem, NC, who are trying to
organize a union at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Denounces
Taft-Hartley Law designed to destroy unions.
Gives sell-out concert for
19,000 at Lewisohn Stadium, New York City.
Makes annual visit to Camp Wo-Chi-Ca, singing and playing softball with
September 5, 1947
Sings and speaks at Shrine
Auditorium, Los Angeles, in concert
sponsored by the Spanish Refugee Appeal, with proceeds going to enlarge
a hospital in Toulouse, France, where patients are all refugees who
fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.
September 6, 1947
Is honored at gala luncheon
given by the Cultural Division of the
National Negro Congress, held at the home of Dorothy Dandridge in Los
Angeles and attended by leaders in the theatrical and civic circles of
Sings and speaks at Madison Square Garden rally sponsored by the
Progressive Citizens of America. Appeals to the American people to
“protect our true American tradition. Let us turn this country toward
the course of history: a world of all the people,…a world where men of
every race and creed may walk the earth in true dignity.”
September 22, 1947
Speaks at National Maritime
Union Convention, the last to which he is
invited, as union leadership under Joe Curran will later turn to the
right and support the Cold War.
September 30, 1947
Performs lead role in dramatic
musical pageant Music
Americana---Spirituals to Swing, presented by American Youth for
Democracy, at Orchestra Hall, Chicago.
Throughout the month, sings
and speaks at campaign rallies for Henry Wallace for President in
Trenton and Camden NJ, New Haven, CT, Baltimore, MD and Springfield, MA.
October 18, 1947
Receives award from Artists,
Writers & Printing Workers’ Congress of Bucharest, Romania.
Is main speaker at mass meeting about Jim Crow in the courts, held at
DuSable High School, Chicago.
Speaks and sings at several
New York events in support of Panamanian
UPW workers, helping to raise funds for their organizing efforts.
· Meets with 18 leaders of
NAACP, to form coalition to coordinate anti-lynching efforts.
· After being denied access
to public halls in East St. Louis, IL, sings at St. John’s CME Church.
November 1, 1947
Is honored guest at pre-election party of the
Citizens of America, at Midland Hotel, Chicago.
Participates in program, “Who is Un-American? Hear First-Hand Account
of the Hollywood Probes,” sponsored by the Civil Rights Congress, at
Orchestra Hall, Chicago, with 400 in attendance.
December 9, 1947
Gives concert at Shaw
University, Raleigh, NC.
December 20, 1947
Announces support for Henry A.
Wallace as independent candidate for
President of the US in opposition to Cold War policies of Truman
Administration. Attends meeting to form Wallace For President
Committee, out of which emerges Progressive Party. Sings and speaks at
many campaign rallies throughout the country up to the November 1948
· Sings and speaks at Rally
for Free Palestine, at New York Polo Grounds.
· Pickets and sings for striking steel workers in Ishpeming, Michigan.
February 5, 1948
Speaks to over 1,000 delegates
at the National Youth Assembly Against
Universal Military Training, held at Metropolitan Baptist Church,
February 22, 1948
Performs benefit concert,
accompanied by Lawrence Brown, at Scottish
Rite Auditorium, San Francisco, with participation of the California
Labor School Chorus, with proceeds going to United Public Workers,
Local 713, in Panama.
February 27, 1948
Sings and speaks at 2nd
Baptist Church, Los Angeles, under auspices of
CIO United Public Workers, the Los Angeles Civil Rights Congress and
Local 558 of the State, County & Municipal Employees, AFL.
of mass meeting and concert is to launch a community campaign against
job discrimination, for passage of the federal Fair Employment
Practices Act, anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation, and
citizens’ action to defeat the witch-hunting county “loyalty purge.”
March 3, 1948
West Virginia authorities ban Paul Robeson: Citizen of the World from
Performs a benefit 15-concert tour of the Hawaiian Islands, with Earl
Robinson and Lawrence Brown, in support of the ILWU’s organizing drive
among pineapple and sugar cane workers.
Transport Workers Union, bowing to right-wing, cold-war pressures, for
first time in ten years, withdraws invitation to have Robeson attend
its convention, despite his honorary life membership.
When 2,000 Ohio State
University students defy school authorities’
refusal to allow Robeson on campus, he speaks and sings from back of
flat-bed truck parked beside the campus.
for Progressive Party and its candidate, Henry Wallace, around the
country, including the South, on several occasions risking life and
limb, after receiving death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. While
campaigning in the South, leads the first major voter registration
drive among African Americans since Reconstruction.
April 10, 1948
Attends 2nd Annual Convention of the Progressive Citizens of America
and rally of 20,000 for the Progressive Party, at the Chicago Stadium,
with Presidential Candidate Henry A. Wallace. The program, entitled
“The Background of American Freedom,” is narrated by Studs Terkel and
broadcast nationally over CBS Radio.
Seeks appointment with
President Truman to again confer on anti-poll
tax, anti-lynching and fair employment legislation, but repeated
requests are rejected.
· Sings and speaks at May Day
celebration, in Union Square, New York.
· Sings and speaks to 1,500 at
Morning Star Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO.
May 20, 1948
Speaks, sings and reads
Langston Hughes’ poem Freedom Train at
convention of International Fur & Leather Workers’ Union, held
New York. (Foner)
May 31, 1948
before US Senate Judiciary Committee on HR5852, “An Act to Protect the
United States Against Un-American and Subversive Activities”
(Mundt-Nixon Bill, calling for the registration of Communist Party
members). Opposes measure as violating civil rights of American
citizens. When questioned about his CP affiliation, states, in part,
“Some of the most brilliant and distinguished Americans are about to go
to jail for the failure to answer that question, and I am going to join
them, if necessary. I refuse to answer the question.” (Foner)
· Makes two appearances at Black
churches in Atlanta and Macon, GA, for Progressive Party Campaign.
· Speaks at dinner for artists and writers, sponsored by Masses and
Mainstream magazine, urging them to join the fight against the
June 2, 1948
Leads delegation in Washington
and marches to the White House, with
over 6,000 to protest the Mundt-Nixon Bill and to demand civil rights
Sings and speaks at rally for the Wallace For President campaign, at
Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, where 37,000 pay to hear Robeson, Wallace
and others on the Progressive Party’s program.
July 28, 1948
This year's annual visit to
Camp Wo-Chi-Ca includes the dedication of
the Paul Robeson Playhouse, built by the campers, staff and union
volunteers as "a place for workers' children to dance and sing." People
come from miles around for the festivities, where the campers perform a
play honoring Robeson, and he gives a concert for them.
· Speaks in Washington DC against
the Taft-Hartley Bill.
· Walks picket line with United Public Workers, denouncing denial of
civil rights in government.
August 5, 1948
Sings and speaks at National
People’s Lobby rally, in Washington, and
heads picketline in front of White House against Jim Crow; later in
day, addresses huge crowd gathered at the Washington Monument.
August 21, 1948
Speaks and sings to ILWU
members in San Francisco. (Foner)
Sings and speaks
at rally for Wallace For President campaign, at Yankee Stadium, New
September 13, 1948
(Three appearances in one day!)
· Sings and speaks at mass rally of 5,000 at the Union Stockyards,
Chicago, sponsored by the Packinghouse Workers For Wallace For
· Sings and speaks at rally of 1,000 at Corliss High School, Chicago,
sponsored by the Steelworkers For Wallace For President.
· Sings and speaks at rally of 400 at the DuSable Community Center,
Chicago, sponsored by the National Railroad Labor Committee For Wallace
September 14, 1948
Speaks and sings at
Progressive Party Rally for Henry A. Wallace for
President, at Wrigley Field, Chicago, accompanied by a 65-piece
"pick-up" orchestra of union musicians.
Sings and speaks at Civil Rights Congress reception honoring William L.
Patterson, founder of the Abraham Lincoln School for Social Research,
October 22, 1948
Gives concert at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Election results disappointing
to Wallace supporters, but Robeson
continues to support Progressive Party and its program against Cold War
and for rights of labor and minorities.