Paul Robeson: Grandfather of Diction, Voice & Representation
The 50th Anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop is an appropriate opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Paul Leroy Robeson as the “Grandfather of Diction, Voice & Representation” using the elements of Hip Hop as the backdrop for his life.
Introducing Paul Robeson to generations of people who have not known his contribution to the American landscape of sociopolitical agency, artistic depth and global citizenship is an important responsibility of the Paul Robeson House of Princeton as we work to Make ROBESON a HOUSEhold Name.
Hip Hop, like the Negro Spiritual, is an American-born art form. KRS-1, like Paul Robeson, is an agent and author of the aesthetic value of their art forms as necessary texts in shaping human rights narratives. This set of learning resources
can be used to gain insight in art, social studies/history, government or other studies within the humanities.
Learning resources: Slide deck
Focus / Process questions
What is the legacy of Paul Robeson? How has it changed over time? How is his work connected within the structure of Hip Hop?
What new information have you gained about Paul Robeson?
What information or conceptions did you have about Robeson prior to the current exploration? What insights do you have now that can be tied to 21st century social justice movements?
Wonderings and wanderings
What do you want to know more about after this lesson? Whose work do you want to follow?
King, L. (2023). Teaching Black History Framework – Center for K–12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education – University at Buffalo. Graduate School of Education. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from https://ed.buffalo.edu/black-history-ed/framework.html
Nusbaum, E. (2020, March 24). Jackie Robinson’s Moving Testimony on Racism and Communism. Time. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from https://time.com/5808543/jackie-robinson-huac/
Siegfried, M. (2009, July 18). HUAC’s Jackie Robinson v Paul Robeson. YouTube. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN9dPSRtyLQ
Siegfried, M. (2016, February 16). Paul Robeson Speaks! International Peace Arch August 16th, 1953. YouTube. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from
2023 Robeson Fellows
The Robeson Adult Scholars Award Program of The Paul Robeson House of Princeton is designed to recognize the scholarship of adult students, community agents, and life-long learners working to advance the cause of human dignity in Robesonian legacy areas: art, athletics/wellness and activism.
Meet the 2023 Robeson Fellows on the latest episode of our podcast.
Education | Poetry
Scholarship through activism and art is crucial for advancing the cause for human dignity, particularly in the context of elementary education in urban communities. The realities of systemic inequalities and social injustices in urban communities require creative and intentional approaches to address them.
Paul Robeson emphasized the importance of education that is rooted in community values and experiences, rather than simply assimilating to dominant culture. In elementary education, this means creating partnerships with families, community organizations, and local businesses to ensure that the education provided is relevant and meaningful to the community.
Fashion | Youth Advocacy |
Environmental Steward | Storyteller
My mother cried as she handed me my passport. “This is the most powerful gift I get to give you.” she said, “Don’t take it for granted.”
What strikes me about Paul Robeson’s story is how by speaking
out against injustice he also had this right—to move around the world — taken away from him. Not only was his agency taken away, but his voice was silenced because limiting his travel ultimately limited his platform…
Acting locally and thinking globally is a mantra that I keep in all of my work…see as much of the world as you can but always come back and pay it forward to the community that supported you.
Scholarship through activism, art, physical and mental wellness, sports, and/or play must be used to advance the cause for human dignity today because these avenues provide platforms to raise awareness, promote inclusivity, and inspire positive change. Paul Robeson was an advocate for using art to promote social and political change. His ideas on the intersection of art and activism are still relevant today. Similarly, Robeson’s emphasis on the power of diversity and inclusion is crucial in a field where there is a need for more representation and recognition of underrepresented artists and perspectives.
Robeson Fellow Serina Montero and Faith Christian of The College of New Jersey moderating a discussion at the 2023 Robeson Film Festival screening of Here I Stand at the Arts Council of Princeton.
Princeton Middle School Robeson Day of Play
Princeton Middle School continues its celebration of Black History Month with Paul Robeson Day of Play on February 24, 2023.
Special thanks to our partners:
PMS Community of Teachers, Staff & Administrators
Princeton Public Library
New York Jets
New York Giants
PHS Student Volunteers
2023 Robeson Freedom Garden
A guiding principle of the Robeson Freedom Garden is honorable harvest. “Honorable harvest – to take only what is given, to use it well, to be grateful for the gift, and to reciprocate the gift.”
We will gather in September 2023 to celebrate Robeson tomato gardens planted in the 2023-24 growing season. We invite every citizen to join us in this campaign of dignity and freedom that celebrates community and collective action toward reaching the goal of making ROBESON a HOUSEhold name.
Please look for additional details regarding seed distribution and planting guidelines in late February to early March.
Contact us at email@example.com