Written by his granddaughter, this biography tells a little-known story of an African-American vocalist who used music to unify people abroad when segregation still ruled in the U.S.
The son of a fugitive slave, Robeson came by his activism earnestly, and prior to his involvement in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, he held concerts to raise funds and gather donations for children and families impacted by the conflict. At the height of the war, Robeson insisted that Capt. Fernando Castillo, his guide, take him to the front lines, where he sang for both sides, temporarily stopping the fighting. Brown’s deeply saturated, highly textured illustrations effectively capture the dangers Robeson encountered to try to bring peace to war-torn Spain and his confidence in his ability to make a difference where others considered his attempts at intervention foolhardy and unnecessarily risky. Readers might wonder how Robeson thought a black American could unite a country where he was both a minority and an outsider, but when they see the photograph of Robeson with his multiracial, international family and learn that he spoke and sang in over 15 different languages, it seems clear that Robeson lived multiculturalism; hence, traveling around the world spreading peace through music to bring people together came naturally to him.
A story worth hearing about a cause worth fighting. (Informational picture book. 4-10)