THE death has taken place of Paul Robeson Junior, who spent many years maintaining the legacy of his famous father. He was 86.
Mr. Robeson was the only son of the actor, singer and civil rights advocate. After his father passed away in 1976, Robeson Jnr. established an archive of material relating to his father’s career. He also wrote a two-part biography of his father.
His efforts to preserve his father’s legacy included spending time teaching young people about the singer’s radical politics. He often said he was a black radical like his father.
As a young boy, Mr. Robeson had travelled to Europe with his parents and had also lived for a time in Moscow with a grandmother. His time behind the Iron Curtain left him fluent in Russian. He also revealed he had been a member of the Communist Party between 1948 and 1962.
His language skills allowed him to work as a translator for many years as well as working as an aide to his father. Mr. Robeson also wrote a number of books on a range of subjects including race and politics.
As guardian of his father’s legacy, he would act as a consultant on TV programmes and films about the singer. However, he wasn’t consulted about the play Paul Robeson which opened on Broadway in 1978. Robeson Jnr was joined by a number of African-American leaders in condemning the production as “a pernicious perversion of the essence of Paul Robeson”.
The production was revived in the late 1980s, but despite some changes having been made to the play he still slammed it.
Mr. Robeson passed away in Jersey City from Lymphoma. He is survived by his wife Marilyn and daughter Susan.
To view an interview in which Mr. Robeson talks about his father, click here.
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