Paul Robeson: The Beacon of Hope for the Oppressed

Apr 6, 2019 | Views: 385

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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.

Or view the video on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLVqCGeK6JM
 

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. On 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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4 Responses to Paul Robeson: The Beacon of Hope for the Oppressed

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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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  • sarassitham
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 10:18 PM
    Thank you for sharing this article. Many people are more concerned about their health and are switching their life style to live longer and healthier by begin Vegetarian. I too beliefs, the culture practices of some religious also plays an important roles of some to be vegetarian. This is because of the willingness of them and also avoid killing animal for food.

    As we know studies has proven that vegetarian diets can provide much more nutrients, and at the same time reduce more chronic disease, compared with meat eaters. Hope this article will help more people aware of their food intake and to choose to have a healthy lifestyle.
  • S.Prathap
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 06:00 PM
    It is a great news to know that vegan diet helping human to have better health .Being a vegetarian has many benefits .Hopefully this article will help more people to go on vegetarian .Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and informative article.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/2XWwxsI
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:17 PM
    Over the past 40 years, China have gone from traditional dynastic structure by passing a number of countries to become world powerful nation . China, under the powerful leadership , China may overtake the United States soon or later in trade , economy , technology and so forth. China is seen as harbouring the ambition to play a bigger and more important role on the world stage . China’s economic expansion and diplomatic have influence countries to befriend China and looking forward to China for help in the economic growth. Time has changed and finally the Tibetans leadership has made the right choice to befriend China. Tibet and China’s friendship in long term will surely benefits both sides. Having a dialogue ,mutual understanding and respect will be good for them for the growth of their country and benefit of their people. The Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) holds the first workshop to enhance Chinese Outreach Campaign is a good beginning for both countries. HH Dalai Lama and many more Tibetans are looking forward to return to Tibet one day. It only can be materialised with the Tibetan leadership having more dialogues and meetings with the Chinese government to solve all the political problems and Dorje Shugden controversy.
    May the Dorje Shugden issue soon be dissolved for the sake of peace and harmony.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this great news.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/the-importance-of-tibet-befriending-china.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:14 PM
    Comics storytelling is the only art form in which words and pictures are blended together in an integral way to tell a story. Rejoice Kechara has taken the platform of comic storytelling to the next level with its launching of Kechara Comics. From traditional folk tales to biographies of past Buddhist masters and real-life stories of people , all in comics. That’s wonderful bringing more and more people closer to understand better of Dorje Shugden and dharma.
    Congrats to the writers team for coming out with the first publication of Kechara Comics title “Karuna Find A Way”. I did enjoyed reading this comic . Its fantastic I could only say.
    Thank you Rinpoche and writers for this wonderful sharing .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/karuna-finds-a-way.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:13 PM
    The true guru helps us open the channel to our own wisdom and discover our guru within. Guru is the one who teaches us and shows us the path to liberation. It’s very important for us to hold on the commitment to our root teacher, who taught us the practices nor matter what happens. Rinpoche has since holding on to it showing a deep guru devotion to his root teacher……HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche who gave Rinpoche the practice of Dorje Shugden.
    Many highly attained Lamas such as HH Kyabje Pabongka Dorje Chang, HH Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, HH Kyabje Zong Dorje Chang teaches has since practiced, received the practice and taught thousands of Lamas the lineage and the meditation of Dorje Shugden . They cannot be wrong . Dorje Shugden is not an evil spirit but a Protector.
    Due to the ban, families , monasteries and many more has suffered, denied services to hospital, schools , attending events talks and so forth. It’s sad many families and monasteries are torn apart by this. There is more than enough evidence that there is no religious freedom or true democracy within Tibetan society which the Tibetan Learership has denied it.
    Interesting read of all the examples of what the Tibetan leadership had said , Dorje Shugden harms the Dalai Lama, and the people, all these is definitely not true. HH Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people is in fact Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). It is impossible that HH Dalai Lama and anyone could be harmed by Dorje Shugden. Every one should be respected one and other even though they are from different religions and faith. Everyone should be given religious freedom to choose what they believe and pray . Showing compassion, love, tolerance and understanding among all people is a good choice , to live in a peaceful and harmony environment. The Tibetan Leardership (CTA) should not discriminate anyone and not be bias against someone due to their religion.
    The truth is the truth and must be reveal to all. May the ban on Dorje Shugden soon be lifted. A clear explanation tells all by Rinpoche.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this details write up.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/are-the-high-lamas-of-tibet-impotent-in-the-face-of-dorje-shugden

  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:21 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 5 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some of us.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 5 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 5’s strength and weakness and also for the opposite number. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2Y9qwgq
  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:17 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 4 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some of us.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 4 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 4’s strength and weakness and also for the another number which is for the opposite gender. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2JF7kiF
  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:13 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 3 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 3 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 3’s strength and weakness and also for the another number which is their partner. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2JMLF77
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:11 PM
    Supriyono lived in a village in Indonesia’s East Java Province. In early October 2011, he dreamt of a bluish-red dragon surrounding his village before it finally dived into an old well. Supriyono took the dream as a sign and located the old well in the Brahu Temple complex in the Trowulan sub-district of East Java Province.

    On 11th October 2011, Supriyono climbed down the well and found a beautiful White Tara statue, coins, and golden stones from the Majapahit Empire (1293-1500 CE). He contacted the collector Johan Yan through his friend to see if he was interested in any of the items found. On 26th March 2012, Johan Yan became the owner of the White Tara statue.

    Read more about this story at https://bit.ly/2puWEZe
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:08 PM
    In order for KFR to truly become a place of healing, His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche has conceived a number of ideas including the newly-opened Medicine Buddha Healing Fountain. Embedded within the fountain are semi-precious stones that were especially consecrated by Dorje Shugden while in trance of the Panglung Oracle; His Holiness Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, widely accepted to be a living emanation of Vajrayogini; our own Tsem Rinpoche and His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche, an emanation of Medicine Buddha himself. When the water runs over these stones, it becomes charged with the healing properties of the stones and imbued with its blessings.

    Check out more about this Healing Fountain at Kechara Forest Retreat at https://bit.ly/2CtVQNk
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:02 PM
    The Cittamani Tara cycle of teachings in the Gelug tradition is a unique lineage of Tara’s practice that is based on the pure vision of the great Tara-siddha Takpu Gargyi Chokyi Wangchuk. This great master had pure visions of Tara and received the initiation and commentary of the practice directly from her.

    Learn more about Cittamani Tara here: https://bit.ly/2Mq3kpa
  • Sofi
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 11:07 AM
    The 4th Zhabdrung Rinpoche of Bhutan and Dorje Shugden

    Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17th Century master who rose to become the supreme authority throughout Bhutan, both in the secular and spiritual domains, and unified the country as a single nation-state.

    Read more of interesting Bhutan history: http://bit.ly/32zy6Az
  • sarassitham
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:41 PM
    It is true that comics are not heavy thick books but they are a wonderful educational medium to bring people deep into teaching of Dharma . Thank you for sharing the first publication of Kechara Comics title “Karuna Find A Way”. Wonderful and a great idea to deliver a beautiful message which is easy to understand and enjoy reading by many level of people.
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:07 PM
    The Dorje Shugden controversy has been going for over two decades. Our Guru H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is one of the many who specks out openly about this issue publicly. Having the courage, brave and honest to explain the truth to those who did not understand the whole situation.
    The Dorje Shugden’s practice have been given to Rinpoche by his root teacher Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, for spiritual purposes. Dorje Shugden is an enlightened Dharma Protector who manifested about 400 years ago from a lineage of erudite masters. Over these years many erudite masters, monks, lamas have been practicing over decades before the ban. Rinpoche has been patiently over the years to provide accurate knowledge about Dorje Shugden across the globe. These truths must be reveal to all. The truth is the truth. It has proven that the practise Dorje Shugden, we do not go to the lower realms. Many highly attained lamas practised Dorje Shugden till the end of his life and has since reincarnated back . They have even composed prayers to Dorje Shugden, give Dorje Shugden initiation, give teachings and promote Dorje Shugden as well. They believe that they will not go to the three lower realms, and will definitely reincarnate into another human form to be recognized, enthroned and continue turning the wheel of Dharma. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this interesting and details write up for us to understand better.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/the-reasons-why-people-who-practice-dorje-shugden-do-not-go-to-the-three-lower-realms
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:05 PM
    Reincarnation is religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body after biological death. Reincarnation do definitely exist and I do believe . There are scientific proof that shows reincarnation is real and there a number of proven case. Reincarnation facts has proven by science and historically and is regarded by many religions. It is believed that the biological death does not destroy the soul, the soul comes back to earth in a different form, in a different body. In Tibetan Buddhism it is considered common, where there is many highly attained lamas has reincarnated back over and over again. One such example was His Holiness Zong Rinpoche. Interesting watch and I do pick new knowledge from there.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/interesting-reincarnation-video

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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
1 month ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
2 months ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
2 months 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.
2 months 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.
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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!!!
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
2 months ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
2 months ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
2 months ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
3 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
3 months ago
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
3 months ago
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden\'s grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 months ago
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden's grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
3 months ago
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche 

www.tsemrinpoche.com
3 months ago
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
3 months ago
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
3 months ago
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
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Videos On The Go

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    1 month ago
    Your Next Meal!
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  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    3 months ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
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    3 months ago
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  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months 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
    3 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
  • 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
    3 months 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
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    4 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    4 months ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
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    4 months ago
    Beautiful
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  • My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
  • Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
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    Cute!
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    7 months ago
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A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

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CHAT PICTURES

Thanks to Uncle Edward, Karen, Ashley Tan, Ashley Eng, Neil, Usha and Sudharshan for helping out for our lunch distribution today. We would also like to thank our sponsors Sogo and Munchy's for their continuous support. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 hours ago
Thanks to Uncle Edward, Karen, Ashley Tan, Ashley Eng, Neil, Usha and Sudharshan for helping out for our lunch distribution today. We would also like to thank our sponsors Sogo and Munchy's for their continuous support. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
These are some of the food distribution photos taken from our kitchen last Saturday. We thanked all volunteers who have come to help for the preparation since 3pm. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
3 days ago
These are some of the food distribution photos taken from our kitchen last Saturday. We thanked all volunteers who have come to help for the preparation since 3pm. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Teacher Julie taught children Nagomi Art and they love it. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Teacher Julie taught children Nagomi Art and they love it. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback - Children volunteered in Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback - Children volunteered in Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- Fun activity in camp. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback- Fun activity in camp. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback - DIY soap making activity. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback - DIY soap making activity. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- KSDS camp in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback- KSDS camp in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
A simple but meaningful way to spend the weekend liberating birds. Animals deserve lots of love, care and freedom too. Through them, we learn to be more compassionate! ~Kechara Penang Study Group Jacinta
5 days ago
A simple but meaningful way to spend the weekend liberating birds. Animals deserve lots of love, care and freedom too. Through them, we learn to be more compassionate! ~Kechara Penang Study Group Jacinta
Some members from Kechara Penang Study Group get together to do a Dorje Shugden puja this afternoon. Join us if you're in Penang next time. ~KPSG Jacinta
5 days ago
Some members from Kechara Penang Study Group get together to do a Dorje Shugden puja this afternoon. Join us if you're in Penang next time. ~KPSG Jacinta
Today we received a lot recycling items from the public. Thanks for supporting us always. KEP-Serena
5 days ago
Today we received a lot recycling items from the public. Thanks for supporting us always. KEP-Serena
Today we are doing recycling at Kechara Soup Kitchen. KEP-Serena
5 days ago
Today we are doing recycling at Kechara Soup Kitchen. KEP-Serena
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 1st Prize Winner is Stella Cheang. Congratulations! Stella wins a Dorje Shugden Puja worth RM400 + Dorje Shugden pendant on black onyx. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
1 week ago
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 1st Prize Winner is Stella Cheang. Congratulations! Stella wins a Dorje Shugden Puja worth RM400 + Dorje Shugden pendant on black onyx. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 2nd Prize Winner is Wylfred Ng. Congratulations! Wylfred wins a Gyenze pendant + Original Red Crystal incense. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
1 week ago
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 2nd Prize Winner is Wylfred Ng. Congratulations! Wylfred wins a Gyenze pendant + Original Red Crystal incense. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
How to Clear Spirit Disturbances by Pastor Chia Today at 9:30 PM – 11 PM in Kechara House, PJ
1 week ago
How to Clear Spirit Disturbances by Pastor Chia Today at 9:30 PM – 11 PM in Kechara House, PJ
Join us for the annual Ullambana Festival on Saturday August 10th at Kechara Forest Retreat and make the most of the auspicious Ullambana month. PROGRAMME: 9:00am – Opening speech & Dharma sharing 9:30am – Grand Ullambana Gyenze Puja for good fortune, long life & merits 12:15pm – Free vegetarian lunch 2:00pm – Grand Ullambana Trakze Puja for protection & blessings 5:00pm – End The highlight of the Ullambana Festival is two powerful & extensive pujas that will be performed according to the tradition of Gaden Monastery. We've also prepared a wide selection of traditional offerings to send bountiful merits to the people who matter in your life. Don't miss this opportunity to bring tremendous benefits to your dearly departed as well as those who are still with you. For more information on the Ullambana Festival and Ullambana offerings, please get in touch with us at +609 221 5600, +603 7803 3908, +6012 987 3908 (WhatsApp only), care@kechara.com or visit our online partner
1 week ago
Join us for the annual Ullambana Festival on Saturday August 10th at Kechara Forest Retreat and make the most of the auspicious Ullambana month. PROGRAMME: 9:00am – Opening speech & Dharma sharing 9:30am – Grand Ullambana Gyenze Puja for good fortune, long life & merits 12:15pm – Free vegetarian lunch 2:00pm – Grand Ullambana Trakze Puja for protection & blessings 5:00pm – End The highlight of the Ullambana Festival is two powerful & extensive pujas that will be performed according to the tradition of Gaden Monastery. We've also prepared a wide selection of traditional offerings to send bountiful merits to the people who matter in your life. Don't miss this opportunity to bring tremendous benefits to your dearly departed as well as those who are still with you. For more information on the Ullambana Festival and Ullambana offerings, please get in touch with us at +609 221 5600, +603 7803 3908, +6012 987 3908 (WhatsApp only), care@kechara.com or visit our online partner
Join us this weekend for SPIRITUAL SATURDAY in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 13 JULY 9.00 am: Cook for the community - salted eggs & pineapple jam 11.00 am: Book Club - Compassion Conquers All (Eng) / Time To Wake Up (Chi) 12.30 pm: Lunch INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!), contact us: +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See all July activities: bit.ly/2FCrJm6
1 week ago
Join us this weekend for SPIRITUAL SATURDAY in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 13 JULY 9.00 am: Cook for the community - salted eggs & pineapple jam 11.00 am: Book Club - Compassion Conquers All (Eng) / Time To Wake Up (Chi) 12.30 pm: Lunch INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!), contact us: +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See all July activities: bit.ly/2FCrJm6
In our Johor Bahru office, our single mother trainees get busy to do up the products taught to them by our #volunteers while their children were given additional tuition classes in another room. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
1 week ago
In our Johor Bahru office, our single mother trainees get busy to do up the products taught to them by our #volunteers while their children were given additional tuition classes in another room. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
How To Clear Disturbances by Pastor Niral - Monday 8. July 2019 at 9:30pm in Kechara House, Jalan PJU 1/3G, SunwayMas Commercial Centre 47301 Petaling Jaya
2 weeks ago
How To Clear Disturbances by Pastor Niral - Monday 8. July 2019 at 9:30pm in Kechara House, Jalan PJU 1/3G, SunwayMas Commercial Centre 47301 Petaling Jaya
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Teachers went to recce the Farm in the City before the outing with students. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Teachers went to recce the Farm in the City before the outing with students. Lin Mun KSDS
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