Tributes to Paul Robeson from Around the World

Jawaharlal Nehru

First Prime Minister of India

"This is an occasion which deserves celebration not only because Paul Robeson is one of the greatest artists of our generation, but also because he has represented and suffered for a cause which should be dear to all of us - the cause of human dignity. " Read more

Source: Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner, Freedomways, 1971

Margaret Burroughs

Founder of DuSable Museum of African American History and revolutionary visual artist

 "At a time when many of today’s most militant militants were in swaddling clothes, Paul Robeson ripped the cover off and exposed the racist establishment for what it was, is. And that establishment wreaked its vengeance upon him by pulling down a curtain of silence and vilification. That is why two generations of Black and White youth too, are not aware of Paul Robeson, surely the tallest tree in the forest." Read more

Source: Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner, Freedomways, 1971

Shirley Graham Du Bois

Author, playwright and activist for African and Asian liberation struggles and editor of Freedomways 

I never heard Paul say that Black is beautiful - he simply lives beautifully. Paul Robeson - Symbol of Manhood, of Loyalty to the Best, the Unbowed and Undefeated : Paul Robeson - Beautiful ! Read more

Source: Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner, Freedomways, 1971

Portrait of Paul Robeson by Charles White (1943).


A mural of Robeson in Philadelphia by Peter Pagast (restored by Ernel Martinez). 


Nazim Hikmet

Turkish-Polish poet, playwright and novelist

To Paul Robeson


They don’t let us sing our songs, Robeson,

Eagle singer, Negro brother,

They don’t want us to sing our songs.


They are scared, Robeson,

Scared of the dawn and of seeing

Scared of hearing and touching.

They are scared of loving

The way our Ferhat* loved.

(Surely you too have a Ferhat, Robeson,

What is his name?)


They are scared of the seed, the earth

The running water and the memory of a friend’s hand

Asking no discount, no commission, no interest

A hand which has never paused like a bird in their hands.


They are scared, Negro brother,

Our songs scare them, Robeson.




*Ferhat- A legendary Turkish lover, like Romeo or Tristan

Source: Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner, Freedomways, 1971

Ali Sardar Jafri

Indian poet, critic and one of the founders of the Progressive Writers Movement in India

Paul Robeson

You may or not take pride in your song,

The song takes pride in being sung by you, 

Our lands are far but our hearts are not, 

My garden of flowers is right next to yours

Your song has won the hearts of Delhi and of Shiraz

If London is yours, then so is Moscow

With your eyelashes, you painstakingly picked up 

Each drop of blood shed by Black martyrs

Many springs color your bosom 

Your voice carries the melodies of Black Bilal

Your words are illuminated by the light of your soul 

Like the fragrance of flowers,

Which could not be kept constrained in the garden,

Your art has broken through all boundaries and perfumed the world

You are the song of Krishna, the beautiful dusk of his town, Gokul

Let me embrace you to my heart, for you are the color of ink

- Ali Sardar Jafri

A poster designed by Syracuse Cultural Workers for his Centennial Birthday celebrations in 1998 titled "Paul Robeson: Voice of the People".

(Source: )

The Paul Robeson stamp was issued on January 20, 2004 to celebrate his extraordinary contribution to racial justice and international peace.


Fidel Castro

Former President of Cuba

"Paul Robeson dedicated the greater part of his activities to the struggle for the equality of all men, the rights of Black people in the United States - of whom he was one - the cause of countries suffering from imperialist oppression and the struggle against fascism, and to protesting the plight of the American masses, White and Black, for whom human rights have never been anything more than a promise by the founders of the United States and a term used in the United States Constitution."

Read more

Romesh Chandra

Former President of the World Peace Council

We think today of Paul Robeson not being allowed to sing by fascist whites. Paul Robeson sang for all---not only for his own black people, but for all America, white and black and brown and red-- for that real America which today stands for the freedom of all people and stands against United States imperialism at the same time, because it knows that there is no future for the people of the United States without a world at peace and a world in freedom….

Read more

Source: Opening Session of the World Conference for the Eradication of Racism and Racial Discrimination, Basle, May 18-21, 1978

Henri Percikow

"In your face I see the Maccabees, Spartacus and Africa

The people of today and the people of tomorrow.

I see the tears of all Ages

I read the lifelines of Mankind

In your voice, I hear the shrieking of the whipped 

I hear the lamentations of your forefathers­ 

I hear the cry of all oppressed peoples. " 

Read more

Source: Freedomways, 1965 (Third Quarter)

A mural titled "Robeson as a Champion of the Working Classes" by Kathleen Farrell, located in the United Auto Workers of America Local Union Hall in Dearborn, Michigan.