PAUL ROBESON: The Great Forerunner by Freedomways--Eds. of

PAUL ROBESON: The Great Forerunner

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The editors of Freedomways, the 18-year-old ""quarterly review of the freedom movement,"" have compiled an anthology of readings by and about Paul Robeson, the theme of which is summed up when, early on, Paul Robeson, Jr., charges ""the ruling class of America and the media it controls"" with having ""a longstanding policy of trying to make Paul Robeson an 'unperson.'"" Granting the ideological bias and polemical intent, the book still suffers from poor organization and repetitiveness. The first and longest of its three sections, labeled ""Chronology,"" is a confusing mix of biographical sketches stressing Robeson's lack of recognition in this country; essays analyzing Robeson's philosophy (black liberation, he said, will not be achieved by the NAACP's policy of racial cooperation, but will instead ""cost so many lives""); and some of his own writings. Since the book's second section is devoted to Robeson's speeches and writings--including a farsighted 1954 essay on Vietnam warning that ""Eisenhower, Nixon, and Dulles are insisting that Vietnam must be reconquered and held in colonial chains""--the editors might better have assembled all the Robeson selections here. Finally, in the third section, we get tributes in poetry and prose from Nikki Giovanni, Lena Home, Nehru, and others--many of whom, like other contributors and the editors, recently ranged themselves against the Broadway dramatization of Robeson's life. A fusillade, with some documentary value, in an ongoing controversy.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Dodd, Mead