The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now

The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now

The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now

The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now

Synopsis

Lloyd L. Brown, close friend of Paul Robeson for over 25 years, has now produced an illuminating portrait of this remarkable Afro-American, drawing on much original material and providing a narrative of his life from Princetown to Harlem.

Excerpt

Now here I stand at Paul Robeson's grave. "Paul," I say, looking down at his name on the bronze marker, "was there ever a more reluctant subject for a biography than you?" Like a flash I think of the rejoinder that Paul could have made: "And was there ever a more reluctant biographer than you were, Lloyd?" We would have shared a laugh at that exchange, coming nearly forty years after he first asked me to assist him in writing his autobiography.

The raised lettering on the plaque, which is set flush with the ground on the edge of this pathway, reads as follows:

PAUL ROBESON APRIL 9, 1898 JAN. 23, 1976 "THE ARTIST MUST ELECT TO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM OR SLAVERY. I HAVE MADE MY CHOICE. I HAD NO ALTERNATIVE."

The quotation is from a 1937 speech by Robeson in London, where the world-famous concert singer and actor had plunged into the growing movement against fascism. "Well, Paul," I say, "you never did write an autobiography, but as it turned out you did write your own epitaph, and no one could have done it better."

My wife, Lily, who has been busy placing on Lawrence Brown's grave his share of the flowers she brought, now joins me and joshingly asks if I am still talking to Paul. I have a joke of my own for a comeback. "What about Larry?" I say. "Was he disappointed that you didn't bring him some imported flowers this time?" (Lawrence Brown, who prided himself on being a connoisseur of the finer things of life, had been delighted that Lily had brought him a bouquet of French-grown mimosa blossoms the last . . .

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