Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976)
Erected 1991 by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. (Marker Number 199.)
Location. 39° 57.391′ N, 75° 13.281′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. Marker is on Walnut Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4951 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19139, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. American Bandstand (approx. half a mile away); Rev. Isaac Leeser (approx. 0.6 miles away); Crystal Bird Fauset (approx. 0.7 miles away); Herman Herzog (approx. 0.9 miles away); Laura Wheeler Waring (approx. 0.9 miles away); Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (approx. one mile away); John J. McDermott (approx. one mile away); Paul Philippe Cret (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Philadelphia.
More about this marker. Located in West Philadelphia.
Regarding Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976). The Robeson House (4951 Walnut Street) is the last home of Paul Robeson, the legendary African-American scholar, athlete, actor, singer and human rights activist. The house has been recognized as National Historic Landmark as well as an African-American historic site and tourist destination of both national and international importance.
Paul Robeson was born in 1898, the son of Reverend William Drew Robeson and Maria Louisa Bustill. Rev. Robeson as a teenager escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad, and later earned a theological degree, and used the pulpit to advocate for equal rights.
Paul Robeson was renowned for his rich baritone voice, superb acting ability, and passionate zeal for racial and human justice. He was a gifted student and athlete while attending Rutgers University in New Jersey. He won honors in debating and oratory and graduated from Columbia Law School. He left the practice of law to pursue a career in singing and acting. Robeson performed on Broadway, and is noted for his leading roles in Othello and Eugene O'Neill's play, Emperor Jones, and his stunning rendition of the song -Ole Man River- in the musical Showboat.
In 1934, he visited the Soviet Union, where he felt fully accepted as a black artist. During World War II, he entertained troops and sang battle songs on the radio. Despite his war efforts, he was labeled "subversive" by McCarthyites who were wary of his earlier trip to the Soviet Union, his support of the 1947 St. Louis picketing against segregation of black actors, and a Panama effort to organize the mostly-black Panamanian workers.
Robeson received death threats from the Ku Klux Klan while campaigning for the Progressive Party candidate in the 1948 presidential election. In March 1950, NBC barred Robeson from appearing on a television show with Eleanor Roosevelt. Concert halls closed their doors to him, and his records began to disappear from stores. Finally, the U.S. State Department canceled his passport. Robeson sued and the case went to the Supreme Court. After eight years and an international outcry, his passport was returned.
During the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of prominent leaders and world-renown performers visited the classic, 1911 row house in the Walnut Hill community of West Philadelphia. The Paul Robeson House was his last residence, and during the 10 years that he lived here with his sister, ill and in retirement after nearly two decades of enforced silence and political persecution, both he and his home became powerful symbols of the African-American struggle for equality and civil rights.
Also see . . .
1. Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program. Location information gleaned from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. (Submitted on January 20, 2014, by Kathleen Weber of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.)
2. Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. House restoration efforts and biographical information are from this page. (Submitted on January 20, 2014, by Kathleen Weber of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.)
Additional keywords. Retirement, singer, actor
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Politics •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Kathleen Weber of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 305 times since then and 60 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on , by Kathleen Weber of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.