Paul Robeson was a singer, actor, and activist for civil rights, socialism,
and for organized labor. He became politically involved in response to the rise of fascism, and social injustices. His advocacy of anti-imperialism, civil rights, and criticism of the United States government caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
During the McCarthy era, the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee charged Robeson. The US government revoked his passport in 1950, and it was
only reinstated after an eight-year legal and political
battle. Without a passport, the only country Robeson could visit
legally was Canada. However, President Truman issued an executive order to
keep Robeson from crossing even that border in 1952 for a
concert organized by Vancouver mineworkers. Still, Robeson performed anyway. He stood a foot from the
Canadian border on a flatbed truck next to an upright piano.
He sang and spoke to an audience of 30,000 massed on the
Robeson remained an international working class
hero who defended the most oppressed, workers’ rights, and
socialism, until his death in 1976.