Paul Robeson: The Life and Times of a Free Black Man

paul robesonAthlete, scholar, singer, and actor, Paul Robeson believed in equality for himself and for all people, and he wasn’t afraid to say so. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1898, a time when few opportunities were available in the United States for African Americans.

While still in school, he was determined to make something of himself. He won a scholarship to college, became a lawyer and later turned to the theater. By the late 1920s, he had become well known as an actor and concert artist. At the height of his popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, his voice and name were loved and respected throughout the world. But only a few years later, his own country rejected him because of his political ideas and his career came to an end.


“Millions of individual citizens continue to cherish what Paul Robeson stood for and what he meant to them. Virginia Hamilton, in this discerning biography which took her five years to write, introduces a great man to new generations of young Americans. A vivid chronicle of dignity and determination” — The New York Times Book Review

“The first book I have read that presents Paul Robeson sympathetically without being totally uncritical of Communism and the Soviet Union. It makes him come to life as a person who faced hard moral and political choices in his efforts to defend the rights and interests of African Americans. Virginia Hamilton makes Robeson’s political alignments seem quite comprehensible to the reader in terms of both his character and the position of black people in American society. For that she is to be congratulated.

“I freely recommend this book to anyone who seeks to understand the history of black people in twentieth century America, and to anyone who wishes to understand how facts have been suppressed and people ‘forgotten’ in the name of anti-Communism.” — Mark Naison, Director of Urban Studies and Professor of Afro-American Studies and History, Fordham University

An American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children’s Book

HarperCollins Publishers
Jacket design by Christine Kettner
Jacket © 1992 by HarperCollins Publishers