31st October 1958 was the date that the great Paul Robeson visited our little town of Stoke. He signed the visitors book in Stoke Town Hall while on one of his many tours of the UK.
For those who do not know of him here are a few points:-
He went to Rutgers University, New Jersey in 1915 and was the only African-American student enrolled at the time. He was an athletic star who was beaten up by fellow trialists for the gridiron football team. However, he made the team and became it’s star player. Today, Rutgers University celebrate his time there both athletically and academically.
Although a qualified lawyer, he became one of the most famous actors and singers of his day. To many he was known for his “Ol’ Man River” but for me his “Jerusalem” sets my hairs on end.
He was a political activist and friends with many of the literary stars of the day. He supported the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War and sang to wounded soldiers in Spain.
He had many links to British coal miners, including the film The Proud Valley some of which was shot at Silverdale Colliery in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
When he was here 62 years ago it was for a concert at The Victoria Hall, Hanley.
Paul Robeson:- athlete, singer, stage and film actor, political activist (1898-1976)