THE PAUL ROBESON HOUSE INITIATIVE
The Paul Robeson House initiative seeks to restore the historic home where Paul Robeson was born, and adapt the property to purposes consistent with Robeson’s transformational vision. Although many organizations and institutions honor aspects of Robeson’s achievements, the Paul Robeson House will be the first in New Jersey to focus exclusively on extending his human rights agenda into the 21st century. In keeping with Robeson’s legacy of activism and social justice, the Robeson House will serve as an international resource for individuals and organizations who share Robeson’s commitment to advocacy and human rights.
The Robeson House is ideally situated to bring together scholars, activists, community members and nonprofit organizations for activities that promote civil rights, racial reconciliation, and community outreach. The following flagship programs will be housed in the Robeson House:
Given the historical significance of the property where it is located, the Robeson House will contain a permanent memorial to Paul Robeson’s life and achievements. There is no single location in the Princeton area dedicated to the life journey of this remarkable man; the Robeson House will include visual and educational materials designed to introduce visitors to his legacy. The Memorial Gallery will be available to school-aged groups as well as community members.
The Paul Robeson Award
An annual award will be established to honor an individual, institution or group that demonstrates outstanding accomplishment in social services and/or the advancement of human rights. In conjunction with this highly visible award, the Robeson House will offer a series of public programs designed to increase awareness of the compelling challenges of social justice.
Paul Robeson Fellows and Residency program
A man of great personal courage, Paul Robeson faced serious risks when expressing unpopular positions about international human rights that have since become standard practice. He often advanced his visionary perspective through the performance of music and theater. Consistent with Robeson’s objectives, the Robeson House will host distinguished scholars, artists and activists whose work embodies a concern for human rights and civic engagement. Individuals working in the Robeson House will engage the community and each other. By creating an opportunity for leaders to interact around common interests during their periods of professional residency, the Robeson House will foster interdisciplinary creativity, dialogue, and collaboration. Over time, the roster of individuals who have served as Robeson Fellows will create a rich national and international network united by shared experience and a commitment to human rights and social justice. Among the first Robeson Fellows have been a historian studying Robeson’s life and work, a refugee fleeing persecution in Kashmir, and missionaries visiting from the Philippines.
Community Resource Center
In keeping with its location as the nexus of Princeton’s commercial district and its racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, the Robeson House will also offer space to community organizations engaged in outreach. Conference and meeting rooms will be made available free-of-charge for nonprofit activities such as health screenings, immigrant services, neighborhood meetings, and civic action initiatives. Particular effort will be made to create hospitable spaces where young people and recent immigrants from the immediately surrounding neighborhoods can come together with other community members to constructively address issues of concern. The Robeson House will collaborate closely with other organizations such as the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Regional Schools, the YWCA and YMCA, the Clay Street.
Learning Center, the Princeton Public Library, and local faith-based groups. As they participate in activities and meetings hosted within the Robeson House, guests will have the opportunity to interact with and be inspired by the resident Robeson fellows.