Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey on 9 April 1898. Robeson's mother died when he was only six and he ended up being raised by his father -a pastor- and his aunt.
Robeson won a four year scholarship to Rutgers; he was only one of two black students at the University. There he excelled at American football, athletics and basketball.
From there he went on to Columbia University. He got a law degree in 1923 and joined a New York law firm. But he faced blatant racism and he turned to popular entertainment instead.
Robeson had visited the Soviet Union as early as 1934 and the CIA soon put him under heavy surveillance. The FBI also fabricated his membership of the CP and "red baiting" mobs disrupted his concerts.
But Robeson continued to support anti-imperialist movements and on trips abroad he criticised the treatment of the black population back in the US. So in 1950 the State Department withdrew his passport. He was called before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities -this was the height of McCarthyism- and he was effectively banned from the mainstream media.
Robeson didn't get his passport back until 1958. His autobiography, HERE I STAND, appeared the same year.
He gradually withdrew from public life. But when he died in 1976 -aged 77- some 5000 gathered at his funeral in Harlem.