1949 September 4

Rescheduled Peekskill, NY, Concert Held


A violent anti-Communist mob had halted a fundraising concert for the left-wing Civil Rights Congress on August 27, 1949. The principal target of the protests was the noted African-American singer Paul Robeson, who had denounced U.S. policies in the Cold War. A rescheduled concert occurred on this day, with 20,000 people in attendance and security provided by labor unions. Folksinger Pete Seeger also performed. Concertgoers were, however, subject to attacks from anti-Communists as they were leaving.

Robeson, the main target of the anti-Communist mob, had his career as a singer ruined by anti-Communist measures. The State Department cancelled his passport on August 4, 1950, which denied him singing engagements overseas. (On May 26, 1957, however, he gave a concert in London by telephone.) Since he was also blacklisted in the U.S., he had virtually no opportunities to pursue his singing career.

Watch Pete Seeger discuss the Peekskill riot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuO7XpFelNw

Read: Howard Fast, Peekskill USA: Inside the Infamous 1949 Riots (2006)

Watch newsreel footage of the Peekskill riot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pgyACdT1rM

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

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