12 Apr 1998

Spectrum: Remembering Paul Robeson

From Spectrum, 12:15 pm on 12 April 1998

Paul Robeson (1898-1976) achieved fame as a singer, actor and political activist. His tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1960 delighted his admirers here.  World-famous as a singer and actor in the 1930's and 1940's, Robeson had been silenced during the McCarthy era in the United States; His outspoken views on peace, black rights and decolonisation offended the US Government.

New Zealanders Rona Bailey, Ken Douglas, Kath Kelly, Shirley O'Connor and Ted Thompson recall their meetings with this "giant of a man" and his considerable influence in their lives. In excerpts from Robeson's 1960 address to workers at the Addington Railway Workshops in Christchurch, he speaks about his political background, music and the struggle for peace and equality.

Music: Ol' Man River (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) performed live by Paul Robeson, recorded at Addington Railway Workshops, New Zealand, 1960.