Paul Robeson was a famous and influential African-American actor, singer, and civil rights activist who made a name for himself worldwide as a political figure and a performer. He was born on April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey. His rich heritage gave him a passion for the arts and for standing up for the rights and freedom of all people. His father Rev. William Robeson was a former slave and his mother Maria Bustill was a Quaker teacher. He became the third African-American student to attend the famous Rutgers University, and he graduated in 1919 as class valedictorian.
He traveled the world performing and speaking out against racial injustices wherever he went. Because of his political views, in 1950, he lost his passport and was unable to travel abroad. He was active in the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. In 1958, he got his passport back and started touring extensively once more. Unfortunately, his physical and mental health deteriorated quickly in the following years, and he died on January 23, 1976, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.