It’s shocking, really, that there hasn’t been a biopic of the legendary Paul Robeson as of yet. (According to IMDB, Oren Moverman, the Oscar-nominated writer/director of The Messenger, has worked on a script about the relationship between Robeson and Albert Einstein for Danny Glover.) Much, much more than “the guy who sings "Ol’ Man River” in Showboat,“ Robeson was a towering American figure and one of the few people who can accurately be called a Renaissance man. To sum it up: before he gained international fame as an opera singer and actor, he had excelled in school and sports, both college valdevictorian and All American football player. (He also excelled at baseball, basketball, and track and field.) He got his law degree from Columbia and played professional football. Staggering accomplishments for anybody, and simply mindblowing when you realize that he did this all while facing the difficulties and racism of life in America as a Black man in the early 1900s. As an entertainer, he broke down barriers, playing Othello on Broadway and playing an active role in a film career that was notable for dignified roles that never slipped into stereotypes. He was an activist who spoke out against racism in the world and the film industry. It’s a tragedy that his vocal support of socialism led to the U.S. government taking away his passport, putting him under survailance from the FBI and CIA (he has one of the largest FBI files for an entertainer), and targeting his livelihood during the McCarthy era.

This got buried on the site and it’s not my favorite writing I’ve written (a little clunky I say), but, here’s a fact: Paul Robeson is the man + here’s what I wrote about him for Tribeca. Click on it if you’re feeling nice!

Someone should start a fuckyeahPaulRobeson tumblr. When I was at a small Messenger screening, I did ask Oren Moverman about the Paul Robeson/Albert Einstein script because that sounded fascinating and he said it was hard to research. (This article may have some information?)

Anyways, Paul Robeson was a great man; that said, you can see the contradictions of America, the shame and hate and idiocy, played out in his fascinating, imperfect life. This man was the biggest entertainer in the world at one point and America erased him from the records, practically. Words like “awesome” tend to get over used but he really was awesome, in the true, split-it-up “awe” “some” meaning of the word, .