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College Days

- The Entertainer

- The Activist



Robeson - The Entertainer
February 2002

Robeson loved singing and acting, so he decided to become a performer. The first play he starred in was "All God's Chillun Got Wings." People protested the play and made bomb threats because a white actress played the role of his wife. But the people didn't scare Robeson, and he continued to act.

Audiences loved Robeson's performances, and he became a role model for other African-Americans. Success allowed him to inform people about African-American history and culture. He turned down roles that stereotyped African-Americans. In 1925, Robeson decided to perform at a concert, singing black spirituals, which are songs of the slaves. The show was an instant success and led to albums and a tour.

Robeson toured all around the United States. Some cities wouldn't give him a hotel room because they didn't want him to stay there, but he never cancelled a performance. His tours even took him to countries like England and Austria in Europe. Robeson enjoyed being in England because people there treated him as an equal. Traveling exposed him to different groups of people, and he became a supporter of all minority groups.

Robeson performed in many different plays in England and in the United States. His most famous role was in the musical "Showboat." He performed the show in England, on Broadway in New York City, and in a movie version. "Ol' Man River," a song from the musical, became his signature song. He is also famous for his role in the William Shakespeare play "Othello." He was the first black actor to play Othello in almost 50 years. Even though the character is African-American, white actors had traditionally played the part with black face make up. Robeson liked the part because it was a good role for an African-American actor.

Next: Robeson -- The Activist

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