1956 June 12

“You Are the Un-Americans:” Paul Robeson Denounces HUAC


Paul Robeson was one of the great African-American voices of the twentieth century. He was a star football player at Rutgers University, an acclaimed vocalist, and a movie actor. Because of his left-wing views, however, he came under attack during the Cold War. He was blacklisted, which ruined his commercial singing career. On this day, he was called to testify about his politics before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC); he denounced the committee by declaring, “You are the Un-Americans,” because of the committee’s assault on freedom of belief and association.

For more on Robeson, including his inability to travel oversees because the U.S. revoked his passport, see also August 4, 1950, and May 26, 1957. On December 17, 1951, he delivered a petition to the United Nations, “We Charge Genocide,” accusing the United States of genocide because of the lynching of African-Americans.

Robeson was also the principal target of anti-Communist vigilantes who on August 27, 1949 violently forced the cancellation of the Peekskill concert (in the town of Peekskill, New York), where he was to be the featured performer.

Read: Martin Duberman, Paul Robeson (1989)

See Paul Robeson’s FBI file: http://vault.fbi.gov/Paul%20Robeson,%20Sr.

Learn more about HUAChttp://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

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