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Reply #19: commemorating Robeson [View All]

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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-22-03 06:39 PM
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19. commemorating Robeson
An excellent thing to do.


On May 18, 1952, in defiance of the authorities who refused to allow him to cross the border, Paul Robeson stood on the back of a flat bed truck on the US-Canada border and sang songs of defiance and solidarity to 40,000 people.

50 years later, on May 18, 2002 activists from both Canada and the United States, organized Here We Stand!, a free concert at the same location to commemorate the 1952 event.

The issues dear to Paul Robeson - social justice, freedom, and civil rights - are as pertinent now are they were then.

40,000 people in 1952.

(Forgive me, that website itself looks a little weird, but you can click to view concert highlights at that site, and particularly his performance of Joe Hill.)

In January 1952, Robeson was invited by the International Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union of British Columbia in Canada to address their annual convention in Vancouver. He agreed to attend, since American citizens did not, by law, require a passport to travel to Canada. He was stopped at the border, however, with the threat of a five-year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine. United States border patrols were further instructed to stop him "by any means necessary." Robeson resigned himself to address the meeting by telephone. In May of the same year, he returned to the border where he sang to a crowd of over 40,000 people gathered in the Peace Arch Park. The Peace Arch concerts were thereafter held in May of each year, in defiance of United States government censorship, from 1952 to 1956, when this travel ban was lifted.

Another interesting perspective on those days:

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