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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 22, 2024 10:59 AM
From: Representative Rick Krajewski and Rep. Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Paul Robeson Day
We will soon be introducing legislation declaring April 9th, 2024 as “Paul Robeson Day.”   

On April 9, 1898, Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey to a father who escaped slavery and became a minister and a mother from a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family. Robeson went on to become one of the most accomplished and impactful musicians, actors, athletes, lawyers and civil rights activists of the 20th century as well as a beloved hero of Philadelphia.  

Upon graduating from high school as valedictorian, Robeson won a scholarship to Rutgers, becoming the third Black student to attend the institution. After graduating college, again as valedictorian, he earned a JD from Columbia Law school, while simultaneously playing for the National Football League and performing in theatrical productions.  

Robeson quickly established himself as one of most successful performers of his generation. He starred in critically acclaimed productions such as The Emperor Jones and Show Boat, recording an iconic performance of the show tune “Ol’ Man River.” He garnered international acclaim, starring in Othello on runs in Britain and on Broadway. In addition to his acting success, he recorded several hit records, including a live album at Carnegie Hall.  

Robeson was not only an entertainer, but a stalwart opponent of the racial and social inequality. He founded the American Crusade Against Lynching, eventually receiving the NAACP’s Spingarn medal for his activism in the early Civil Rights movement. He constantly sought to connect his art to his activism, recording pro-labor ballads and performing at rallies in support of residential integration and civil rights. His activism extended beyond the United States, as he hosted concerts in support of independence in India and the countries of Africa.   

In 1966, he moved in with his sister, residing in West Philadelphia until his passing in 1976. His legacy lives on in the The Paul Robeson House of Princeton and the Paul Robeson House & Museum in Philadelphia. Robeson is remembered as a tireless advocate for artistic freedom and civil rights in Philadelphia and across the globe.

Please join us in supporting this resolution to honor Paul Robeson, one of our Commonwealth’s most extraordinary artists and champions of social justice, by recognizing his birthday, April 9th, as Paul Robeson Day. Thank you for your consideration.  

Introduced as HR331