Paul Robeson: The Beacon of Hope for the Oppressed

Apr 6, 2019 | Views: 1,209

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Paul Leroy Robeson (1898–1976) was a famous Hollywood actor, bass-baritone singer and stage performer who not only contributed to the entertainment industry, but also, as a political activist to the Civil Rights Movement and sociocultural movements around the world.

Robeson was a well-educated man. He earned an athletic scholarship at Rutgers University and continued his studies at Columbia University. Being curious about his roots and the rich African culture, he went to London to the School of Oriental and African Studies to learn the Swahili language.

Paul Robeson as the varsity catcher

Paul Robeson as the varsity catcher

After completing his studies, Robeson pursued acting and singing where he achieved fame and success. Subsequently, he became involved in political activism, which adversely affected his career. Today, Robeson is remembered as the first African American actor who achieved international prominence, a symbol of African American dignity, and a spokesperson for the oppressed.

The scene on Show Boat (1936) where Paul Robeson gave his legendary performance, “Ol” Man River

The scene from the “Show Boat” (1936) where Paul Robeson gave his legendary performance, “Ol” Man River

 

The Early Years

Paul Robeson’s parents, William Drew Robeson (Left) and Maria Louisa Bustill (right)

Paul Robeson’s parents, William Drew Robeson (left) and Maria Louisa Bustill (right)

Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey on April 9, 1898. His mother, Maria Louisa Bustill, was a lady who came from a prominent Quaker family, and his father, William Drew Robeson, was a Presbyterian Church Minister at Witherspoon Street. Robeson had one sister, Marian, and three brothers, William Drew Jr, Reeve, and Ben.

St. Thomas A.M.E Zion Church

St. Thomas A.M.E Zion Church
(click to enlarge)

His father, William, had an interesting past. He was born into slavery but managed to escape from a plantation that owned him in his teens. In 1901, William resigned from his position in the Presbyterian Church due to racially charged conflict with the Witherspoon white financial supporters.

After he lost his ministerial position, William worked menial jobs to support his family. In 1904, Maria died in a tragic house fire accident. Robeson was only six years old. As the family’s financial condition worsened, they had to move to a shop’s attic in Westfield, New Jersey.

Fortune started to shine on the Robeson family when William secured a position at St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church in 1910 and a proper residence for his family. Paul would sometimes replace his father during sermons whenever he was not available.

Summerville High School

Somerville High School

Robeson attended Somerville High School in 1912. He excelled not only in his studies, but also music, sports, and performing arts. He participated in the school’s chorus and drama productions, “Julius Caesar” and “Othello”, and made a mark in track, baseball, basketball, and football. Robeson ignored any hints of racial discrimination and continued to accumulate academic achievements. Before his high school graduation, he won a statewide academic contest and secured a scholarship to Rutgers University.

A picture of Paul Robeson with the Somerville High School Football Team 1913

A picture of Paul Robeson with the Somerville High School Football Team in 1913

To earn extra income, Robeson took a job as a waiter at Narragansett Pier in Rhode Island. It was here that he became acquainted with Fritz Pollard who would later be the first African American coach in the National Football League.

 

The Rutgers Years

Winants Hall on the Rutgers campus as it looked prior to 1920. This building served as a dormitory for many Rutgers students, including Paul Robeson. In contrast to other Rutgers students, Robeson was not allowed to share room in Winants Hall.

Winants Hall on the Rutgers campus as it looked prior to 1920. This building served as a dormitory for many Rutgers students, including Paul Robeson.

Robeson enrolled at Rutgers University in 1915. He was the only African-American student at the time and the third to be enrolled at the university since its establishment. It was a challenging period for him being a person of colour.

During the tryout for the Rutgers Scarlett Knights Football team, Robeson was sorely tested and ended up with a broken nose and a dislocated shoulder. Seeing his determination, the coach, Foster Sanford, finally announced that he made the cut. In addition to the football team, Robeson joined the debate team and the Glee Club. He also earned pocket money by singing off-campus.

Paul Robeson in the Rutgers Football Team)

Paul Robeson with the Rutgers Football Team

In his sophomore year, Robeson’s skin colour adversely affected a football match, where a Southern American team refused to play with a black man on the field. He was subsequently benched. However, after a standout junior year of football, Robeson was recognised in “The Crisis”, the official magazine for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for his academic, athletic, and singing talents.

It was around this time, his father fell ill and passed away. At the same time, Robeson was starting to question why African Americans were not given the same opportunities as white people despite the fact that they too fought for America in World War I.

Paul Robeson was a member of Cap and Skull, a senior-year honour society at Rutgers College

Paul Robeson was a member of Cap and Skull, an honour society at Rutgers University

Robeson graduated from Rutgers with honours. He had four annual oratorical triumphs and varsity letters for his athletic achievements under his belt. He was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national honour society, and Cap and Skull, Rutgers University honour society.

“The Daily Targum”, Rutgers official magazine, also featured Robeson’s achievements in the form of a poem. He was elected school valedictorian and in his farewell speech, he encouraged his classmates to work for the equality of all Americans.

 

Columbia Law School

Paul Robeson and his wife, Eslanda Goode

Paul Robeson and his wife, Essie Goode (click to enlarge)

After graduating from Rutgers, Robeson enrolled at New York University (NYU) School of Law in autumn 1919. To support himself through law school, he worked as an assistant football coach. Unfortunately, that was short-lived. He felt that NYU was not for him, and he moved to Harlem. Within less than a year, in February 1920, he transferred his academic credits to Columbia Law School. Robeson was well-known within the African American community for his powerful voice and was asked to perform at the dedication of Harlem YWCA. He was also recruited to play for the National Football League’s (NFL) Akron Pros.

During this time, Robeson also met and developed a relationship with his fellow schoolmate at Columbia, Eslanda “Essie” Goode, who encouraged Robeson to make his theatrical debut in Ridgely Torrence’s “Simon of Cyrene” where he played the lead role of Simon. He also took a short break from his study to play in Mary Hoyt Wilborg’s play, “Taboo” in Britain and sang in the off-Broadway musical production, “Shuffle Along”.

After one year of courtship, Robeson and Essie were married in August 1921. To support his new family, Robeson played professional football and gave Latin courses. He stopped playing football in 1922 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1923.

Paul Robeson and the graduation class of 1923 at Columbia Law School

Paul Robeson and the graduation class of 1923 at Columbia Law School

 

Artistic Endeavours and Fame

After his graduation, Robeson had a short career stint at a law firm. However, he experienced racial discrimination at his workplace, and with his wife’s encouragement, he decided to pursue a career as an actor instead. Essie gave up her aspiration to study medicine and took on the role as her husband’s business manager and launched his acting career while working in the hospital to support herself and her husband.

“Even then, I never meant to [become an actor]. I just said yes to get her to quit pestering me.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: Wikipedia.org

Robeson landed a role in a controversial play, Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Chillun Got Wings”, about an African American man married to a white abusive woman who resented her husband’s skin colour and destroyed his promising law career. Due to the play’s controversy, the premiere was delayed. Taking the opportunity from this delay, Robeson landed a 90-minute monologue role as Brutus Jones in “The Emperor Jones” revival, which won him critical acclaim and recognition.

Paul Robeson in the film The Emperor Jones (1933)

Paul Robeson in the film “The Emperor Jones” (1933)

In 1925, Essie quit her job at the hospital and negotiated a silent film role, “Body and Soul”, for her husband. Robeson also participated in a charity concert to support single mothers and performed his repertoire on radio shows. Around this time, he became acquainted with a pianist named Lawrence Brown, and the two held a captivating concert of African American folk songs and spirituals at Provincetown Playhouse. After this concert, Robeson won a contract with Victor Records. Robeson’s and Brown’s musical collaboration continued, and they embarked on a one and half year concert tour across the United States from January 1926 to May 1927.

Lawrence Brown and Paul Robeson rehearsing at the piano

Lawrence Brown and Paul Robeson during a rehearsal session
(click to enlarge)

While Robeson and Brown were performing in Europe in November 1927, Essie gave birth to Paul Robeson Jr. However, she experienced childbirth-related complications, and her health quickly deteriorated. Despite Essie’s protest, her mother informed Robeson of her condition, and he rushed home to be with his wife. Several months later, Essie recovered.

In 1928, Robeson landed the role of “Joe” in the widely successful musical “Show Boat” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. His performance on one of the songs, “Ol’ Man River” was legendary. The “Show Boat” ran for 350 performances and was considered as one of Theatre Royal’s most profitable show. While in London, he had the opportunity to perform at Buckingham Palace and became acquainted with the Members of Parliament from the House of Commons.

 

Ah Still Suit Me (Show Boat)

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CKsPRIpYKc
 

Following their success, the Robesons bought a house in Hampstead, an area famous for intellectual, artistic, liberal, musical and literary associations. They became a common feature in the high society, went on holidays in the French Riviera and mingled with the likes of Gertrude Stein, an American novelist and playwright, and Claude McKay, a Jamaican novelist.

Although he was more fortunate than many African Americans of his day, a racially charged treatment at the Savoy where he was refused a seat prompted him to issue a press release about this unpleasant experience and insult. Regardless of the racial discrimination he received from time to time, he was grateful for his success and attributed them to God.

“God watches over me and guides me. He’s with me and lets me fight my own battles and hopes I’ll win.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: Duberman, Martin, “Paul Robeson: A Biography” The New Press, p. 220

 

Marriage Crisis

Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona and Paul Robeson as Othello in Shakespeare’s Othello

Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona and Paul Robeson as Othello in Shakespeare’s “Othello”

Early in her marriage, Essie realised that her husband was a womanizer and tolerated her husband’s dalliances. However, over time she found it hard to contain her resentment of his illicit affairs.

In 1930, after appearing in the experimental Swiss film “Borderline”, Robeson played the lead in Shakespeare’s “Othello” opposite a famous English actress, Peggy Ashcroft, who played the role of Desdemona. The play was historical because Robeson was the first African American to play “Othello” in Britain since Ira Aldridge.

He understood what it meant to play “Othello” for a black man like him and stated that the best way to diminish the oppression African Americans faced, was for his artistic work to be an example of what “men of colour” could accomplish rather than to

“be a propagandist and make speeches and write articles about what they call the Colour Question.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: Kinni, Fongot Kini-Yen, “Pan-Africanism: Political Philosophy and Socio-economic Anthropology for African Liberation and Governance : Caribbean and African American Contributions”, Langaa RPCIG, Page 201

Paul Robeson and Peggy Ashcroft’s two years affair ended Paul Robeson’s marriage to Essie

Paul Robeson and Peggy Ashcroft

During the play, Robeson and Ashcroft became attracted to each other and this led to an affair. Much hurt by this, Essie sought for a divorce. The affair lasted for two years until 1932, after which Robeson and Essie reconciled.

Paul Robeson and Eslanda Goode with their son Paul Robeson Jr.

Paul Robeson and Essie Goode with their son, Paul Robeson Jr.

 

Returning to his African Roots

Paul Robeson in the Sanders of the River (1935)

Paul Robeson in the “Sanders of the River” (1935)

In the 1930s, Robeson started to embrace his African heritage. In 1933, he went to London and played Jim in Chillun, free of charge. When he returned to the United States, he took the lead role of “Brutus” in “The Emperor Jones”. During this time, Robeson was very sensitive to the slightest actions that he perceived as degrading to his African American root.

Movie poster advertising the Belgian release of the film 'Sanders of the River’ where Paul Robeson played the role of Bosambo

Movie poster advertising the Belgian release of the film “Sanders of the River” where Paul Robeson played the role of Bosambo (click to enlarge)

When he went back to Britain, he complained to the media that the African Americans in the United States have rejected their culture and that he does not want to be associated with European opera as it has no connection with his culture. His controversial comments invited negative reactions from the American press. The New York Amsterdam News sarcastically remarked that Robeson made a fool of himself.

To enhance his knowledge on the African culture, Robeson enrolled at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies to learn about Swahili and other African languages in 1934. He also wrote about his preference for his ancestry in his essay titled “I Want to be African”.

His fondness for the African culture is also reflected in his choice of acting roles. He took part in “Sanders of the River” (1935) as Bosambo because he felt that the movie gave a realistic portrayal of the African colonial culture. However, this enthusiasm soon turned sour when during the retake of some scenes he found out that the message of the movie had been changed to support imperialism.

“The imperialist plot had been placed in the plot during the last five days of the shooting. I was roped into the picture because I wanted to portray the culture of the African people and I committed a faux pas which convinced me that I had failed to weigh the problems of 150,000,000 native Africans. I hate the picture.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: https://www.indiewire.com

Since then, Robeson became more conscious of his choice of role. Regardless of his comment, “Sanders of the River” became a box office hit, and Robeson became an international superstar.

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (1898-1948)

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (1898-1948) (click to enlarge)

In December 1934, Sergei Eisenstein, a Soviet film director invited Robeson, Essie and another actress, Marie Seton to the Soviet Union. Robeson was very impressed, “Here I am not a Negro but a human being for the first time in my life. I walk in full human dignity.” So impressed was he with the treatment he received in the Soviet Union, Robeson decided to send his only son to continue his education in the Soviet Union to protect him from racism in early 1936.

His preference for niche roles did not seem to affect his popularity. He participated in a play about solidarity during labour strike titled “Stevedore”. The play received positive reviews from Nancy Cunard of “The Crisis”,

“’Stevedore’ is extremely valuable in the racial-social question – it is straight from the shoulder.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: Cunnard, Nancy, “Stevedore in London”, “The Crisis”, 1935, page 238

After “Stevedore”, Robeson continued to entertain in various stage and screen roles. He was involved in the “Song of Freedom”, “Show Boat”, “My Song Goes Forth”, “King Solomon’s Mines”, and as a narrator in the “Big Fella” documentary. The year 1938 seemed to be the pinnacle of his career when Robeson was named as the 10th most popular star in British cinema by American Motion Picture Herald.

 

The Start of his Political Activism (1937-1939)

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The struggle between Democracy and Fascism in the Spanish Civil War affected Robeson whereby he decided to be a political activist that advocated the war’s refugees and the Republican cause. This political activism was reflected in his arts and performances.

In the rendition of his famous song “Ol’ Man River”, Robeson modified the word “niggers” to “darkies”. He changed the lyrics further and transformed the originally tragic song into a song of protest and defiance, i.e. from the original lyrics, “Ah gits weary, An’ sick of tryin’, Ah’m tired of livin’, An skeered of dyin’”; to the modified version of, “But I keep laffin’, Instead of cryin’, I must keep fightin’, Until I’m dyin’”.

Powerful statement by Paul Robeson that lead the way he lived

Paul Robeson’s famous quote

Robeson’s business agent was concerned about how his political activism would affect his career. However, Robeson believed that the many contemporary events that happened around the world were more important than any commercial interest. He recorded his famous message, “The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.” This message would later become his epitaph.

Paul Robeson in New York with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, 1957

Paul Robeson with the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru

Robeson continued to advocate world events that supported the Republican cause. In Wales, he commemorated the Welsh who died fighting for the Republicans. He lent his moral support to the Republican soldiers by going to the battlefront in Spain. He hosted Jawaharlal Nehru in England to show his support for the Indian independence cause. He also supported the political independence aspiration of the African nationalists.

 The song “Chee Lai’ by Paul Robeson

The song “Chee Lai’ by Paul Robeson (click to enlarge)

Robeson also sided with China during the Sino Japanese War. He performed and recorded the song, “Chee Lai!” (“Arise!”), which was also known as the “March of the Volunteers”. Robeson lent his fame and popularity to the song. He recorded the song in Chinese and English, and in 1941, premiered the song at New York City’s Lewisohn Stadium and later, performed it at Washington’s Uline Arena to a sold out crowd.

The recording consisted of a 3-disc album with the introduction from Soong Ching Ling, Dr Sun Yat Sen’s widow. Due to the popularity of the song, it became China’s National Anthem after 1949. Although the Chinese lyricist Tian Han, passed away in prison in 1968, Robeson still faithfully sent the royalties from the song to his family.

 

Paul Robeson’s Chee Lai!

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJv0jMLLRcw
 

 

World War II and Return to the United States

After completing his last British film, Robeson and his family returned to the United States and settled in Enfield, Connecticut. He was then hired by Norman Corwin, to perform “Ballad for Americans”, an American patriotic song. However, during the tour to promote the song, Robeson had an unpleasant experience due to racism that was still rampant then. He found that the only hotel that was willing to accept him regardless of his skin colour was the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, but he was required to register under a different name. To support people of his race, he stationed himself at the hotel lobby “to ensure that the next time blacks come through, they’ll have a place to stay.”

He decided to stop taking film roles after acting in “Tales of Manhattan”, where he acted opposite Ethel Walters as a struggling African American. He viewed the role as demeaning and perceived other movie roles available for coloured actors like him as degrading.

Although he no longer acted in films, he was still active on stage. He became the first African American to play the role of “Othello” with white cast members in Broadway. He went on tour to play this role in North America until 1945.

Newpaper cutting of the show in Broadway which Robeson play the role of Othello

Newspaper cutting of the show in Broadway which Robeson played the role of Othello (click to enlarge)

After his move to the United States, Robeson continued his activism to promote the rights of the African Americans and the anti-Fascist group. He participated in concerts to benefit the war effort. He also became acquainted with members of the Jewish anti-Fascist Committee, Itzik Feffer and Solomon Mikhoels. He unsuccessfully attempted to convince the Commissioner of Baseball at the time, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, to allow African Americans to play in the Major League baseball.

 

The Challenging Years

After World War II ended, a new racial dynamic emerged in the United States. The African American men who fought for their country were unhappy to be treated as second-class citizens, while the white supremacists sought to restore their pre-war dominance. Dissatisfaction grew especially in the southern part of the United States.

On July 25, 1946, a white supremacist mob attacked, shot and murdered two African American couples, Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George W. and Mae Murray on a dirt road near Moore’s Ford Bridge in Oconee and Walton counties. This tragic incident attracted national attention and became known as Moore’s Ford Lynching.

A historical marker commemorating the Moore's Ford Bridge Lynching

A historical marker on the Moore’s Ford Bridge Lynching (click to enlarge)

This invoked mass protests in New York City and Washington, D.C. which prompted President Harry S. Truman to introduce the draft of the anti-lynching legislation. However, some members of Congress opposed this legislation. Despite the FBI’s attempt to investigate and identify the guilty party, no one was prosecuted.

After the mass lynching incident, Robeson met with President Truman, and said that if the President did not enact the legislation to end lynching, “the Negroes will defend themselves”. President Truman immediately terminated the meeting with Robeson.

Robeson then made a public call for the Congress to pass the anti-lynching legislation and established the American Crusade Against Lynching organisation. He received support from famous civil right activist, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (W.E.B. Du Bois). Around this time, Robeson also became enchanted with the concept of trade unionism and became a staunch supporter of Revels Cayton, a union activist.

W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson World Peace Congress in Paris, 1949

W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson at World Peace Congress in Paris, 1949

In the late 1940s to the mid-1950s, McCarthyism practice was rampant in the United States. The practice was named after Senator Joseph McCarthy. This era was characterised with accusations of treason and subversion without regard for proper evidence. McCarthyism era was triggered by the fear of espionage by Soviet agents and Communist influence in the American Institutions.

Senator Joseph McCarthy, the person who started the McCarthyism practice

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Robeson’s activism and sympathy with the Soviet Union raised suspicions about his communist tendencies. Jack B. Tenney (1898-1970) was a member of the United States Senate and Chairman of the California Committee of the Un-American Activities or also known as the Tenney Committee. Tenney believed that “You can no more coexist with communism than you can coexist with a nest of rattlesnakes” and attacked everyone whom he suspected to be a communist or had a communist tendency. Robeson was one of them. In front of the Tenney Committee, Robeson testified that he was not affiliated with the Communist Party USA. However, he was involved with the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) and Council on African Affairs (CAA) that were included in the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations (AGLOSO).

Paul Robeson with Henry A. Wallace who ran for the 1948 presidential race

Paul Robeson with Henry A. Wallace who ran for the 1948 presidential race

After the preliminary inquiries by the Tenney Committee, Robeson was questioned by the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding his connection with the Communist Party. During this questioning, Robeson made his famous remark, “Some of the most brilliant and distinguished Americans are about to go to jail for the failure to answer that question, and I am going to join them, if necessary.” In 1948, Robeson became involved in the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace, which worsened his political situation.

Paul Robeson listens to a speech during the Peace Partisans World Congress in Moscow 20 April 1949

Paul Robeson listening to a speech during the Peace Partisans World Congress in Paris

In the subsequent years, Robeson began to feel the pinch of his political activism. His concert performances were cancelled and he was forced to find work abroad. During his overseas tour, he continued his activism and refused to lay low. He made a speech at the World Peace Council whereby he was accused of equating the United States of America with a Fascist state.

After this speech, he received much criticism and was viewed as the enemy of mainstream America. He refused to submit to public criticisms and continued his controversial political activities such as supporting the twelve defendants in the Smith Act trials of suspected Communist Party leaders.

Paul Robeson with his old friends, Itzik Feffer and Solomon Mikhoels

Paul Robeson with his old friends, Itzik Feffer and Solomon Mikhoels

When Robeson went to Moscow to visit his old friends, Feffer and Mikhoels, he was unable to locate them and had to ask the Soviet authorities of their whereabouts. Because Robeson had always portrayed the Soviet Union in a favourable image, the authorities allowed him to meet with Feffer. During this meeting, Feffer informed Robeson that Mikhoels was dead and he would be executed next. To protect the Soviet Union’s reputation, Robeson kept this meeting a secret and denied the persecution that occurred.

In 1949, Robeson made a speech at the Paris Peace Congress that alarmed many in his native country,

“We in America do not forget that it was on the backs of the white workers from Europe and on the backs of millions of blacks that the wealth of America was built. And we are resolved to share it equally. We reject any hysterical raving that urges us to make war on anyone. Our will to fight for peace is strong. We shall not make war on anyone. We shall not make war on the Soviet Union. We oppose those who wish to build up imperialist Germany and to establish fascism in Greece. We wish peace with Franco’s Spain despite her fascism. We shall support peace and friendship among all nations, with Soviet Russia and the People’s Republics.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: “The Emperor Robeson”, The New York Review of Books, P. 4

Paul Robeson giving speech at the Paris Peace Congress

Paul Robeson giving a speech at the Paris Peace Congress (click to enlarge)

After that speech, Robeson was politically isolated in the United States. Jackie Robinson, an African American professional baseball player, testified in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Robeson’s speech “if accurately reported, was silly”. Robeson’s scheduled concert in New York City was cancelled. His appearance on NBC’s Eleanor Roosevelt’s television program was also cancelled. The State Department denied him a passport and therefore restricted his movements within the United States. The State Department officials informed him that the reason for his passport denial was “his frequent criticism of the treatment of blacks in the United States should not be aired in foreign countries”. In 1951, an article that featured Robeson in unfavourable light was published in “The Crisis”. The article was also distributed in Africa to defame Robeson and reduced his popularity there.

Regardless of the pressures and the backlash to his career, Robeson remained true to his activism. On December 17, 1951, he presented We Charge Genocide, an anti-lynching petition, to the United Nations. The document stated that based on Article II of the United Nation Genocide Convention, the United States was “guilty of genocide” due to failure to act against lynching.

Paul Robeson presents “We Charge Genocide” by William Patterson to UN Secretary in New York

Paul Robeson presented “We Charge Genocide” by William Patterson to UN Secretary in New York

It did not help matters much that Robeson accepted the International Stalin Prize in New York due to travel restriction. Not long after Stalin’s passing in April 1953, Robeson wrote a praise to Stalin as a beacon of peace to the world,

“Through his deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: marxists.org

While the McCarthyism put a halt to Robeson’s career and restricted his movement, the parties he championed supported him. In May 1952, the labour unions in Canada and the United States held an International Peace Arch Concert on the border between Washington State in the United States and British Columbia Province in Canada. The labour union held three similar concerts within the next three years. Aneurin Bevan, a Welsh politician, encouraged Robeson to record several radio concerts for his supporters in Wales.

 

Continuing Political Oppression

Paul Robeson: activist, communist and spokesperson for the oppressed of the earth

Paul Robeson led Moore Shipyard workers in singing the Star Spangled Banner

In 1956, Robeson invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to declare his political affiliation in front of HUAC. He was summoned after refusing to sign an affidavit to confirm that he was not a Communist. He was questioned as to why he did not stay in the Soviet Union since he liked their political ideology so much. He replied,

“Because my father was a slave and my people died to build the United States and, I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you and no fascist-minded people will drive me from it!” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: cpsr.cs.uchicago.edu

Robeson explained further,

“Whether I am or not a Communist is irrelevant. The question is whether American citizens, regardless of their political beliefs or sympathies, may enjoy their constitutional rights.”

Source: Bailey, Budd, “Red Scare: Communists in America” page 102

 

Paul Robeson at the House Un-American Activities Committee

In 1956 Paul Robeson was dragged in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. His defiant answers to baiting by right-wing politicians were dramatized by James Earl Jones in this reproduction.

Although his recordings and movies were removed from public distribution in the United States, his political activism did not dim his popularity overseas. In 1956, Topic Records in the United Kingdom released a single from Robeson titled Joe Hill, based on an early 20th-century labour activist (1879-1915). Joe Hill became the third popular songs on Desert Island Discs, a BBC radio program, and the top fourteen most popular songs for British politicians.

In 1956, Robeson performed at two concerts, one in Toronto and the other at Sudbury, Ontario, after he was given a one-time permission to travel to Canada due to public pressure.

As he was not able to travel overseas to entertain his fans, he would hold telephone concerts. “We have to learn the hard way that there is another way to sing”. His telephone concert in 1957, at St. Pancras Town Hall, London, was sold out within one hour. He also held a similar telephone concert in Wales via transatlantic telephone cable and sang to the 5,000 audiences who attended.

 

Paul Robeson’s Joe Hill

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Kxq9uFDes
 

 

The Revival of a Brilliant Career

Paul Robeson, member of the World Peace Council, in Moscow 1958

Paul Robeson in Moscow (click to enlarge)

In June 1958, the United States Supreme Court via Kent v. Dulles, ruled that the right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of the law under the Fifth Amendment. Following this landmark decision, Robeson’s passport was restored and in the same year, he published his autobiography titled “Here I Stand”.

Upon receiving his passport, he went on a world tour. He performed classic Russian songs at the Lenin Stadium, Moscow, and received a thunderous reception. He and his wife, Essie, then went to Yalta to meet with Nikita Khrushchev and to rest. In October 1959, Robeson became the first African American performer to sing at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

 

Paul Robeson: Here I Stand

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUki-v-NvoE
 

During a trip to Moscow, the Robesons experienced a health scare. He was hospitalised for two months due to having heart problems and dizziness. During this time, Essie was diagnosed with operable cancer. Upon his recovery, the couple went back to the United Kingdom.

Paul Robeson, singer, performer and civil rights activist, was welcomed in Russia, Moscow, Russia, January 19, 1935

Paul Robeson, singer, performer and civil rights activist, was welcomed in Russia, Moscow on January 19, 1935

In 1959, Robeson participated in Tony Richardson’s production of “Othello” at Stratford-Upon-Avon and befriended fellow actor, Andrew Faulds. Robeson stayed with Faults’ family in the nearby Shottery Village. In 1960, Robeson sang at the Royal Festival Hall to raise funds for the Movement for Colonial Freedom.

In October the same year, Robeson and his wife travelled to New Zealand and Australia on a two-month concert tour at the invitation of William Morrow (1888-1980), an Australian politician. Robeson was the first artist to perform at the construction site of Sydney Opera House.

Paul Robeson was the first singer to perform at the Sydney Opera House

Paul Robeson sang for the workers at Sydney Opera House’s construction site

During his time in Australia, he became acquainted with Australian Civil Rights activist, Faith Bandler, and attacked bigoted perception that Aborigines were uncultured. In his speech, he mentioned that “There’s no such thing as a backward human being, there is only a society which says they are backward.”

After his performance at the Brisbane Festival Hall, Robeson and his wife visited Auckland, New Zealand. There, Robeson became a staunch defender of the Maori people’s rights and denounced the inequality faced by the Maoris.

 

Paul Robeson Speaks! 1958 KPFA Radio Interview

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YeHzzyisfM
 

 

Retirement and Death

After Robeson’s return to the United States In 1963, he started making appearances in support of the Civil Rights Movement, but soon his health worsened. In 1965, he suffered a kidney blockage and double pneumonia that almost killed him. His wife, however, was not so lucky. Essie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1963 and two years later, Robeson lost not only his wife but his spokesperson and most loyal supporter.

Paul Robeson Jr, and his father

Paul Robeson and his son, Paul Robeson Jr.

After Essie’s passing, Robeson hardly appeared in public. In reply to questions about his father, his son said that his “father’s health does not permit him to perform or answer questions.” In 1968, Robeson moved into his sister’s home in Philadelphia. During his old age, there were many events held to honour his achievements and activism. However, other than the few messages in support of the civil rights movements, nationally and internationally, he seldom appear in public as he believed that his record spoke for itself.

In 1974, an American painter and sculptor, Kenneth Hari, drew a portrait of Robeson that is still displayed to this day at his alma mater at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. In 1973, his health deteriorated, and he was unable to attend the tribute to mark his 75th birthday at Carnegie Hall. However, he recorded a message that was played during the event, in which he said,

“though I have not been able to be active for several years, I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace, and brotherhood.” ~ Paul Robeson

Source: Wikipedia.org

On January 23, 1976, Robeson suffered a stroke and passed away from the complications. He was 77 years old. After the funeral service at Mother Zion AME Zion Church, Robeson was laid to rest at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Robeson’s biographer, Martin Duberman, wrote that, “the white American press ignored the continuing inability of white America to tolerate a black maverick who refused to bend, …downplayed the racist component central to his persecution during his life, as they paid him gingerly respect and tipped their hat to him as a ‘great American’; while the black American press, ‘which had never, overall, been as hostile to Robeson as the white American press had, opined that his life ‘would always be a challenge to white and black America.'”

Paul Robeson’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery, New York, United States

Paul Robeson’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery, New York, United States

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Today, Paul Robeson’s achievements and activism are commemorated across the United States.

 

Sources

  • Duberman, Martin, “Paul Robeson: A Biography”, The New Press, New York, 1995, eBook (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Sparrow, Jeff, “How Paul Robeson found his political voice in the Welsh Valleys”, The Guardian, 2 Jul 2017, [website], https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/02/how-paul-robeson-found-political-voice-in-welsh-valleys (accessed: 21 March 2019)
  • Sparrow, Jeff, “Paul Robeson’s songs and deeds light the way for the fight against Trump”, The Guardian, 20 Feb 2017, [website], https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/feb/20/paul-robesons-songs-and-deeds-shine-a-light-for-the-fight-against-trump (accessed: 21 March 2019)
  • “Paul Robeson”, Wikipedia.org, 26 March 2019, [website], https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson (accessed: 26 March 2019)
  • “Eslanda Goode Robeson”, Wikipedia.org, 31 January 2019 [website], https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eslanda_Goode_Robeson (accessed: 21 March 2019)
  • “Paul Robeson (1898-1976)”, Coalfield Web Materials, [website], http://www.agor.org.uk/cwm/themes/life/international_relations/paul_robeson.asp (accessed: 21 March 2019)
  • Farell, Jenny, “Paul Robeson: activist, communist, and spokesperson for the oppressed of the earth”, culturematters.org.uk, 31 March 2018, [website], https://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/music/item/2772-paul-robeson-activist-and-spokesperson-for-the-oppressed (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Nair, R. Divya, “Oraa Aamaader Gaan Gaaite Dyay Naa: A Bengali Panegyric to Paul Robeson”, Black Agenda Report, 20 June 2018, [website], https://www.blackagendareport.com/oraa-aamaader-gaan-gaaite-dyay-naa-bengali-panegyric-paul-robeson (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • “Paul Robeson, a Brief Biography”, uchicago.edu, [website], http://www.cpsr.cs.uchicago.edu/robeson/bio.html (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Duchen, Jessica, “Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film.” Independent, 20 November 2014, [website], https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/paul-robeson-the-story-of-how-an-american-icon-was-driven-to-death-to-be-told-in-film-9874111.html (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Pollock, Arthur, “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” Brooklyn Daily News, 16 May 1924, [website], http://www.eoneill.com/artifacts/reviews/agc1_brooklyn.htm (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Sergio, “Paul Robeson Rarity ‘Proud Valley’ Airing on Turner Classic Movies This Thursday”, IndieWire, 1 April 2013, [website], https://www.indiewire.com/2013/04/paul-robeson-rarity-proud-valley-airing-on-turner-classic-movies-this-thursday-136819/ (accessed: 21 March 2019).
  • Robeson, Paul, “To You Beloved Comrade” Marxists.org, [website], https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/biographies/1953/04/x01.htm (accessed: 21 March 2019).

 

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8 Responses to Paul Robeson: The Beacon of Hope for the Oppressed

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  1. Walter A. Patterson on May 4, 2024 at 2:04 am

    Paul Robison is truly a great person. He deserves the title or praise also as a great American. His story is a timeless statement, perseverance, sensitivity, and global awareness of all of the world humanity. Some would say his life is an example of black history, In reality, the story and the life of Paul Robison is true American history. It cannot be sealed off and should not be sealed off from anyone in the United States or anywhere else in the world.
    He was and remains a truly great man!

  2. Tsa Tsa Anne on Apr 17, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Many people have not heard of Paul Robeson before, including me. Paul Leroy Robeson was an American singer, actor, and political activist. He became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. He was one of the most gifted men of the 20th century been inspired and deeply influenced by his father. He is inspiring and his achievements are remarkable even though it is a bit sad towards the end of his life. He is inspiring because he fought for justice and equality regardless of their skin colour. He is a passionate human rights activist that fights for inequally wherever he goes and whenever he feels there is an injustice. He does not only fight for racial issues or issues that concern himself. He is a selfless man that would speak up for the weak and not afraid of the consequences that may come. Today, Robeson is remembered as the first African American actor who achieved international prominence, a symbol of African American dignity, and a spokesperson for the oppressed. Thank you Rinpoche and blog team for this very inspiring write up 👍👏😍

  3. Samfoonheei on Dec 26, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Paul Leroy Robeson an American singer, actor, and political activist famous for his involvement of campaigning for the rights of blacks around the world. An international public champion of the socialist who created hope among black people around the world when its constitution outlawed racism. He was an acclaimed stage actor and had the most beautiful voices of the 20th century. While the backlash of his civil rights activities and left-wing ideology left him embittered .
    His career as a singer, actor was practically ruined as he fights for human rights as to this day, he remains a durable symbol of racial pride and consciousness. Interesting and inspiring read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this inspiring sharing of a black man.

  4. Wai Meng Wan on Oct 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you for this, I found Paul Robeson a man who believed in his ideals and gave it all to defend the rights of others and quick to highlight whatever inequalities he saw in the world..

  5. Ummamageswari on Jun 27, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. Paul Leroy Robeson was a well-educated man where he earned an athletic scholarship at Rutgers University and continued his studies at Columbia University. He always been curious about his roots and the rich African culture.

    Today, Robeson is remembered as the first African American actor who achieved international prominence, a symbol of African American dignity, and a spokesperson for the oppressed. Thank you.

  6. Chris on Apr 13, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Paul Robeson is a remarkable man with many achievements in his career as an actor cum singer. He is incredible because he is able to achieve so much when racism is still rampant in America. [/color]He has been lucky with his chances but he also possesses the talents that propelled him to stardom.

    He is a passionate human rights activist that fights for inequally wherever he goes and whenever he feels there is an injustice. He does not only fight for racial issues or issues that concern himself. He is a selfless man that would speak up for the weak and not afraid of the consequences that may come.
    [/color]
    His determination is legendary when he presses on with his career and activism even during the toughest time where he was accused of being a communist. He is still able to sell out concerts and even perform through a telephone. There is nothing that can stop him and his passion. His legacy has inspired so many activist and also performers around the world.

    images

  7. Yee Yin on Apr 11, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Many people have not heard of Paul Robeson before, including me. He is inspiring and his achievements are remarkable even though it is a bit sad towards the end of his life. He is inspiring because he fought for justice and equality regardless of their skin colour.

    Back in early 1900, black people in America were badly discriminated against by the white people. But against all odds, Paul Robeson still managed to excel in his study and his career. His success was mainly due to his determination and perseverance. Once he had made the choice, he just did it without giving up.

    What we can learn from Paul Robeson is his determination and that he didn’t give up no matter how difficult things are. He was bullied in the school but it didn’t affect him negatively, he used his experience to motivate himself to be better so he can overcome it. His bad experience made him a stronger and more positive person. Whatever pain he has gone through, he did not do the same to other people.

  8. Samfoonheei on Apr 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Paul Leroy Robeson was an American singer, actor, and political activist. He became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. He was one of the most gifted men of the 20th century been inspired and deeply influenced by his father. An international activist fighting for equality and justice for black people. Robeson has devoted full time to campaigning for the rights of blacks around the world. Inspiring Renaissance man who spent most of his life fighting injustice, for which he was roundly persecuted. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this inspiring post of a great man.

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    Monday, Jun 17. 2024 12:52 PM
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    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/mahapajapati-gotami-the-first-buddhist-nun.html

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Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn\'t this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in? https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=204874
4 years ago
According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn't this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in? https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=204874
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden\'s blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
4 years ago
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden's blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world - https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=193645
4 years ago
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world - https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=193645
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat\'s doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
4 years ago
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat's doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
4 years ago
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
4 years ago
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
4 years ago
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
It\'s very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it\'s very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
4 years ago
It's very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it's very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
4 years ago
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
4 years ago
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
5 years ago
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
5 years ago
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
5 years ago
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
5 years ago
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
5 years ago
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
5 years ago
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
5 years ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
5 years ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
5 years ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
5 years ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
5 years ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
5 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
5 years ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
Sacred Vajra Yogini
5 years ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
5 years ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
5 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
5 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
5 years ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
5 years ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
5 years ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
5 years ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
5 years ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
5 years ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
5 years ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
5 years ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
5 years ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
5 years ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
5 years ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
5 years ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
5 years ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
5 years ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
5 years ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
5 years ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
5 years ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
5 years ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
5 years ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
5 years ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
5 years ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
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    Cute Tara girl having a snack. She is one of Kechara Forest Retreat’s resident doggies.
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    5 years ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
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    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
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    5 years ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
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    5 years ago
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CHAT PICTURES

This week's puja offerings sponsored by a few people and we hope their wishes be fulfilled. Pic taken by Choong and uploaded by Jacinta.
2 weeks ago
This week's puja offerings sponsored by a few people and we hope their wishes be fulfilled. Pic taken by Choong and uploaded by Jacinta.
29th June 2024. Kechara Penang Study Group completed weekly Dorje Shugden cum Manjushri Namasangiti. Pic taken by Choong and uploaded by Jacinta
2 weeks ago
29th June 2024. Kechara Penang Study Group completed weekly Dorje Shugden cum Manjushri Namasangiti. Pic taken by Choong and uploaded by Jacinta
Need a dose of spiritual nourishment or perhaps any spiritual protection? Do take up our Kechara Penang food/candles offering packages. Do not hesitate to contact our member Choong for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
3 weeks ago
Need a dose of spiritual nourishment or perhaps any spiritual protection? Do take up our Kechara Penang food/candles offering packages. Do not hesitate to contact our member Choong for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
Different food offerings offered on Penang Kechara Chapel's altar behalf of the sponsors. May sponsors' wishes be fulfilled. Great effort from Choong Soon Heng, one of our Kechara Penang dedicated members who thought of this way for people to generate merits while clearing obstacles. Uploaded by Jacinta.
3 weeks ago
Different food offerings offered on Penang Kechara Chapel's altar behalf of the sponsors. May sponsors' wishes be fulfilled. Great effort from Choong Soon Heng, one of our Kechara Penang dedicated members who thought of this way for people to generate merits while clearing obstacles. Uploaded by Jacinta.
These are some of the offerings offered on behalf of our sponsors. We have different offerings packages which one can choose from or just simply sponsor our weekly puja in dedication to our loved ones. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
3 weeks ago
These are some of the offerings offered on behalf of our sponsors. We have different offerings packages which one can choose from or just simply sponsor our weekly puja in dedication to our loved ones. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
We hope you enjoyed our pictures, as much as we enjoyed our Wesak Day together in Penang. Let us carry the energy and enthusiasm we experienced so far and inspires many more. Happy Wesak Day! 22/5/2024 KPSG by Jacinta
2 months ago
We hope you enjoyed our pictures, as much as we enjoyed our Wesak Day together in Penang. Let us carry the energy and enthusiasm we experienced so far and inspires many more. Happy Wesak Day! 22/5/2024 KPSG by Jacinta
Puja offering packages. Thanks to those who sponsored the puja. May all your wishes be fulfilled. KPSG by Jacinta
2 months ago
Puja offering packages. Thanks to those who sponsored the puja. May all your wishes be fulfilled. KPSG by Jacinta
Colourful altar with plenty of offerings. We had DS puja with Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni as we celebrate this special day of Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana. KPSG by Jacinta
2 months ago
Colourful altar with plenty of offerings. We had DS puja with Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni as we celebrate this special day of Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana. KPSG by Jacinta
Some of the activities done during the Wesak Day Celebration in Penang. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
2 months ago
Some of the activities done during the Wesak Day Celebration in Penang. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
Wesak Day Celebration in Penang!Buddha's Bathing Ritual. 22/5/2024 Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
2 months ago
Wesak Day Celebration in Penang!Buddha's Bathing Ritual. 22/5/2024 Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
11/5/2024 Saturday @3pm. After puja, all members helped out clearing the offerings and we shared out the blessed food offerings with our families, friends and even animals. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
2 months ago
11/5/2024 Saturday @3pm. After puja, all members helped out clearing the offerings and we shared out the blessed food offerings with our families, friends and even animals. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
11/5/2024 Saturday @3pm. Activities during puja. Members chanting Dorje Shugden mantras. We've completed Dorje Shugden puja cum Namasangiti. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
2 months ago
11/5/2024 Saturday @3pm. Activities during puja. Members chanting Dorje Shugden mantras. We've completed Dorje Shugden puja cum Namasangiti. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
11/5/2024, Saturday @3pm. Activities : Offerings of khata to Rinpoche, garland of flowers to Dorje Shugden and a new Tibetan butterlamp being offered on the altar. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
2 months ago
11/5/2024, Saturday @3pm. Activities : Offerings of khata to Rinpoche, garland of flowers to Dorje Shugden and a new Tibetan butterlamp being offered on the altar. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
Today we have an inaugural cancer free diet talk and info sharing by Mr. Ooi. Mr. Ooi is a Penangite and like any other man, he has a family to provide for. From colon cancer stage 4,he is now known as a cancer-free man. Learn more about his story and his acquaintance with Dorje Shugden here https://youtu.be/x7i-yXJBUwM?si=A-5O0udxjg52iS58
2 months ago
Today we have an inaugural cancer free diet talk and info sharing by Mr. Ooi. Mr. Ooi is a Penangite and like any other man, he has a family to provide for. From colon cancer stage 4,he is now known as a cancer-free man. Learn more about his story and his acquaintance with Dorje Shugden here https://youtu.be/x7i-yXJBUwM?si=A-5O0udxjg52iS58
Kind-hearted sponsors sponsored these kuih-muih & flowers for today's puja @ 4th May, 2024. Should you wish to contribute these or sponsor our weekly puja, do contact us for more details. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
2 months ago
Kind-hearted sponsors sponsored these kuih-muih & flowers for today's puja @ 4th May, 2024. Should you wish to contribute these or sponsor our weekly puja, do contact us for more details. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
Pastor Seng Piow guides us on the flow of Dorje Shugden puja, its benefits, significant of Chanting the names of Manjushri and also explaining the dedication for the sponsors and to those in need before we start the puja as we have 2 newcomers today.
3 months ago
Pastor Seng Piow guides us on the flow of Dorje Shugden puja, its benefits, significant of Chanting the names of Manjushri and also explaining the dedication for the sponsors and to those in need before we start the puja as we have 2 newcomers today.
Two Pastors in da house! Double the merits, double the happiness. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
3 months ago
Two Pastors in da house! Double the merits, double the happiness. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
Mr. Cheah Fook Wan offered lights and incense to The Three Jewels prior to the puja in Ipoh. (KISG - Kin Hoe)
3 months ago
Mr. Cheah Fook Wan offered lights and incense to The Three Jewels prior to the puja in Ipoh. (KISG - Kin Hoe)
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Mother Tara prayer recitations on Sunday afternoon in Ipoh. (KISG- Kin Hoe)
3 months ago
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Mother Tara prayer recitations on Sunday afternoon in Ipoh. (KISG- Kin Hoe)
Powerful Dorje Shugden puja @ Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. Every Saturday, 3 pm. Remove obstacles and grant blessings to fulfil wishes. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta. 6th April 2024
3 months ago
Powerful Dorje Shugden puja @ Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. Every Saturday, 3 pm. Remove obstacles and grant blessings to fulfil wishes. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta. 6th April 2024
Rejoice to the volunteers (also kind sponsors) who cleaned the Gyenze Chapel and made abundant offerings to Gyenze. ~ Alice
4 months ago
Rejoice to the volunteers (also kind sponsors) who cleaned the Gyenze Chapel and made abundant offerings to Gyenze. ~ Alice
Offered beautiful flowers abundantly to Gyenze. ~ Alice
4 months ago
Offered beautiful flowers abundantly to Gyenze. ~ Alice
Offered beautiful flowers abundantly to Gyenze. ~ Alice
4 months ago
Offered beautiful flowers abundantly to Gyenze. ~ Alice
Our weekly Dorje Shugden Puja @ 23/3/2024 . William, as the umze is seen here burning incense powder as we are about to recite the Sangsol Prayer to Dorje Shugden composed by Ganden Serkong. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
4 months ago
Our weekly Dorje Shugden Puja @ 23/3/2024 . William, as the umze is seen here burning incense powder as we are about to recite the Sangsol Prayer to Dorje Shugden composed by Ganden Serkong. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
And here's Mr Wong of KSK Ipoh who dropped by to pray and offered some donation to the Chapel. Kechara Penang Study Group. Pic by Siew Hong & uploaded by Jacinta.
4 months ago
And here's Mr Wong of KSK Ipoh who dropped by to pray and offered some donation to the Chapel. Kechara Penang Study Group. Pic by Siew Hong & uploaded by Jacinta.
Today's puja (16/3/2024) ended around 420pm, Jacinta was the umze of the day. Pic by Siew Hong. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
4 months ago
Today's puja (16/3/2024) ended around 420pm, Jacinta was the umze of the day. Pic by Siew Hong. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
Group photo taken after the last session, sealed with King of Prayers. Come and join us next time! Sayonara - 9-10th March 2024 - Kechara Penang DS Retreat by Jacinta.
4 months ago
Group photo taken after the last session, sealed with King of Prayers. Come and join us next time! Sayonara - 9-10th March 2024 - Kechara Penang DS Retreat by Jacinta.
Abundance altar! Fruits, flowers, Mee Koo (traditional Penang buns), Bee Hoon, sourdoughs and snacks are some of the offerings to Rinpoche, Buddhas & Bodhisattvas. Kechara Penang Dorje Shugden Retreat 9-10th March, 2024 by Jacinta.
4 months ago
Abundance altar! Fruits, flowers, Mee Koo (traditional Penang buns), Bee Hoon, sourdoughs and snacks are some of the offerings to Rinpoche, Buddhas & Bodhisattvas. Kechara Penang Dorje Shugden Retreat 9-10th March, 2024 by Jacinta.
Siew Hong, one of retreatants and an active member of Kechara Penang group proudly presented her torma to be used during the Kalarupa puja. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
4 months ago
Siew Hong, one of retreatants and an active member of Kechara Penang group proudly presented her torma to be used during the Kalarupa puja. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
Torma making was taught by Pastor Seng Piow and held one day before the retreat. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
4 months ago
Torma making was taught by Pastor Seng Piow and held one day before the retreat. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
Penang Dorje Shugden Retreat cum Puja, 9-10th March 2024 led by Pastor Seng Piow with 12 retreatants. Uploaded by Jacinta
4 months ago
Penang Dorje Shugden Retreat cum Puja, 9-10th March 2024 led by Pastor Seng Piow with 12 retreatants. Uploaded by Jacinta
The celebration ended with a Dorje Shugden puja, dedicated to all the sponsors, our loved ones and as well as for the happiness & good health for all sentient beings. May Rinpoche return swiftly too and taking this opportunity wishing all Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai from all of us, Kechara Penang Study Group. Uploaded by Jacinta.
5 months ago
The celebration ended with a Dorje Shugden puja, dedicated to all the sponsors, our loved ones and as well as for the happiness & good health for all sentient beings. May Rinpoche return swiftly too and taking this opportunity wishing all Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai from all of us, Kechara Penang Study Group. Uploaded by Jacinta.
Seen here, Pastor Seng Piow set off firecrackers - welcoming of the upcoming year with enthusiasm and positive energy. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
5 months ago
Seen here, Pastor Seng Piow set off firecrackers - welcoming of the upcoming year with enthusiasm and positive energy. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
In this pic, Pastor Seng Piow is sharing Dharma with newbies ~ Sharyn's friends. It's always good to make light offerings at the beginning of new year. By making light offerings, you are able to dispel the darkness of ignorance and achieve wisdom. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
5 months ago
In this pic, Pastor Seng Piow is sharing Dharma with newbies ~ Sharyn's friends. It's always good to make light offerings at the beginning of new year. By making light offerings, you are able to dispel the darkness of ignorance and achieve wisdom. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
One the day of Losar (new lunar year), it is always beneficial for Buddhist practitioners to get together in making abundant offerings to Buddhas on the altar to usher in goodness, prosperity and well-being of our loved ones. It's more auspicious this year as Losar and the Chinese New Year begin on the same date, 10th Feb, 2024. Back in Penang, our Kechara members came together to decorate the altar with abundance offerings for Dorje Shugden puja @3pm. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
5 months ago
One the day of Losar (new lunar year), it is always beneficial for Buddhist practitioners to get together in making abundant offerings to Buddhas on the altar to usher in goodness, prosperity and well-being of our loved ones. It's more auspicious this year as Losar and the Chinese New Year begin on the same date, 10th Feb, 2024. Back in Penang, our Kechara members came together to decorate the altar with abundance offerings for Dorje Shugden puja @3pm. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta.
Mr. Dared Lim was offering water bowls on behalf of Kechara Ipoh Study Group. (Kin Hoe)
5 months ago
Mr. Dared Lim was offering water bowls on behalf of Kechara Ipoh Study Group. (Kin Hoe)
Jun from Ipoh was offering mandarin oranges to Mother Tara and The Three Jewels. (Kin Hoe)
5 months ago
Jun from Ipoh was offering mandarin oranges to Mother Tara and The Three Jewels. (Kin Hoe)
Prior to our puja in Ipoh, Mr. & Mrs. Cheah Fook Wan were preparing for the offerings to the Buddhas. (Kin Hoe)
5 months ago
Prior to our puja in Ipoh, Mr. & Mrs. Cheah Fook Wan were preparing for the offerings to the Buddhas. (Kin Hoe)
On Sunday afternoon, Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Mother Tara prayer recitations in Ipoh. (Kin Hoe)
5 months ago
On Sunday afternoon, Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Mother Tara prayer recitations in Ipoh. (Kin Hoe)
Some of the best shots taken during Thaipusam in Penang. Swee Bee, Huey, Tang KS, Nathan, Choong SH and Jacinta volunteered. Wai Meng came all the way from KL to help out. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
5 months ago
Some of the best shots taken during Thaipusam in Penang. Swee Bee, Huey, Tang KS, Nathan, Choong SH and Jacinta volunteered. Wai Meng came all the way from KL to help out. Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
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Dorje Shugden
Click to watch my talk about Dorje Shugden....