‘The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery’: Paul Robeson

Post date: 29/01/2017

IBMT Ireland Secretary Manus O’Riordan writes…


Last 6 August, at the request of the International Brigade Commemoration Committee in Belfast, Nancy Wallach, board member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, USA, was invited to give a lecture on the solidarity of legendary African-American singer Paul Robeson (1898-1976) with both the Spanish Republic and the volunteers of the International Brigades who fought in its defence against the forces of fascism. This enthusiastically received lecture was delivered at the Shankill Road Public Library, as part of last year's West Belfast Festival. 


This past 17 December, under the auspices of Friends and Family of the Lincoln Brigade, Nancy again lectured on this theme at the Tamiment Library of New York University. See for a video of that New York lecture. 


This month [Januar 2017], Nancy was further invited to speak about Robeson on the New York radio station WBAI. See – from the 21st to the 37th minute – for her interview on the 19 January broadcast. See – from the 34th to the 53rd minute – for her interview on the 26 January broadcast. 


Here, Nancy Wallach spoke in detail of how veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade had repaid their debt to Robeson by coming to his aid when confronted with racist red-baiting riots, on the occasion of his September 1949 concert in Peekskill, New York. 


See for film footage of those Peekskill riots, with a commentary from folk singer Pete Seeger (1919-2014). 


See and and for Spanish anti-fascist songs from both Robeson and Seeger. 


See also for Robeson's legendary Moscow concert in June 1949 where – at the 24th minute of the recording – he once again sang ‘The Four Insurgent Generals’. 


Particularly remembering Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger in this week in which the anniversaries of the passing of each of them fall (23 and 27 January respectively).  



Posted on 29 January 28.



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