Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee

Our Team
Events Timeline
Brief Biography
Memorabilia Request
Posthumous Recognition
Robeson In Depth
Contacting Us

  • March 30,1996 - Legendary folksinger Pete Seeger writes letter to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), urging the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Paul Robeson. Pete’s letter initiates a nationwide petition campaign for a Robeson stamp, which becomes an integral part of the work of the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and many other organizations, involving hundreds of individuals in a “labor of love” that ultimately bears fruit on January 20, 2004.

  • April, 1997 - As the Centennial year approaches, a meeting is called and BAPRCC forms under the direction of trade unionist, David Aroner. Volunteers pool their ideas and time to aid the stamp drive and plan events for the upcoming centennial year. David Aroner brings to the Committee the abilities and skills of a veteran professional organizer.

  • June, 1997 - The Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, contributes $1000 to the BAPRCC to assist with the centennial effort. 

  • The California Federation of Labor joins the Alameda and San Francisco Central Labor Councils in adopting a resolution supporting the efforts of the BAPRCC.

  • July, 1997 - Congressman Ronald V. Dellums circulates a "Letter to Colleagues" asking them to join him in signing a letter to the Citizens Advisory Committee advocating the issuance of a Paul Robeson Commemorative Stamp.  Over thirty-five members of Congress co-sign the letter.

  • September 5-8, 1997 - BAPRCC joins in celebrating the rededication of the San Francisco Opera House by reminding those attending that Paul Robeson's deep cultural roots extended to the Bay Area, having sung at the Opera House on November 12, 1940 and March 5, 1946.  Barred from the opera house in 1952, Robeson was able to sing at the Macedonia Baptist Church on Sutter street.

  • September 16, 1997 - Oakland City Council considers naming one of two new city buildings after Paul Robeson.  BAPRCC members attend the session to show their support for this action.

  • September 25, 1997 - Dr. Zuretti L. Goosby, President of the War Memorial Board of Trustees sends BAPRCC Chair, Sylvester Hodges a letter stating, "Should there be any way the War Memorial Board of Trustees can be of assistance during the ensuing year... please feel free to call upon us and we shall be pleased to undertake consideration of your request."

  • October, 1997 - BAPRCC monthly newsletter, "On My Journey Now," reports that after receiving recommendations from its Public Works Committee, the Oakland City Council dropped the issue of naming a new city building after Robeson.  BAPRCC members vow to keep up the effort.

  • Autumn, 1997 - BAPRCC continues to meet regularly as do the Education, Labor and K-12 Schools subcommittees.

  • December, 1997 - The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee announces the subjects of 30 stamps representing the first two decades of the twentieth century.  Crayola Crayons and the Teddy Bear are among the stamps to be issued.  Despite the submission of hundreds of signatures from the Bay Area and nearly 100,000 nationwide, there is no mention of Paul Robeson.

  • December 14, 1997 - The Northern California ACLU Bill of Rights dinner in San Francisco includes a BAPRCC display and a presentation of slides in tribute to Paul Robeson in their program.

  • January 11, 1998 - The BAPRCC presents "An Afternoon of Music and Poetry" in honor of Paul Robeson at Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley.  This free event includes performances and oration by many Bay Area notables.  Over 300 attend, despite pouring rain. 

  • January 16-18, 1998 - BAPRCC holds Paul Robeson workshop at the 12th Annual Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival in Burlingame, California.

  • February, 1998 - Free Radio Berkeley disc jockey and BAPRCC member, Gene Gordon, begins his twenty-four one-hour, in-depth radio programs on Robeson.

  • February 15, 1998 - The African American Center of the San Francisco Public Library presents "Paul Robeson and the United Nations Genocide Petition," part of a year-long series sponsored by Amnesty International commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

  • February 21, 1998 - The BAPRCC holds a benefit at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco.  "Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of African American History" includes performances by opera bass and actor, Eugene Jones, Vukani Mawethu and vocalist Alex Bagwell, among others.

  • February 25, 1998 - Paul Robeson is awarded a posthumous Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  Paul Robeson Jr. accepts on behalf of his  father.

  • March, 1998 - BAPRCC brings longtime friend of Paul Robeson, Lloyd L. Brown, to the Bay Area.

  • March, 1998 - The BAPRCC arranges for the San Francisco Jewish Bulletin to do a major interview with Lloyd L. Brown on "Paul Robeson and The Jewish Community."  Published in summer of 1998, the interview discusses the mutual admiration and deep respect shared by Robeson and people of Jewish descent.

  • March 1, 1998 - The Bay Area Post of The Veterans of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade's annual gathering is dedicated to Paul Robeson to honor his contributions to Spain's struggle against fascism in 1936-39.  Robeson's association with the VALB is celebrated with a theatrical work performed by the San Francisco Mime Troupe and is entitled "The Artist Must Take Sides." Abraham Lincoln Brigade  veteran and Bay Area resident Milt Wolfe hosts and historian Sterling Stuckey lectures on Paul Robeson's  early years.  The BAPRCC is on hand to provide information on Robeson, garner signatures for the stamp petition and sell Robeson items.

  • March 26, 1998 - Laney College in Oakland presents "Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration," featuring Prentice Phillips, baritone; William Duncan Allen, piano and remarks by Lloyd L. Brown in their music department. 

  • March 27, 1998 - Lloyd L. Brown opens the biennial "Let Us Break Bread Together" at the Paramount Theater where he speaks before a full house about Robeson's legacy.  A performance by the Oakland East Bay Symphony follows, with performances by the Oakland Symphony Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Oakland Youth Chorus, Laney Concert Chorale and renowned baritone Macatee Hollie, under the direction of conductor Michael Morgan.

  • March 28, 1998 - Lloyd Brown speaks at the African American Community Service agency in San Jose, California.

  • March 28, 1998 - At the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, The Sports Image Educational Foundation honors Paul Robeson along with Magic Johnson and other athletes who have given their time and effort to better their community.  Paul Robeson, Jr. is on hand to accept a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award for his father. 

  • March 31, 1998 - Stephen Meyers leads a "Post Denominational Worship Service in Celebration of the Life of Paul Robeson" at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

  • Spring 1998 - Alliance Graphics in Berkeley publishes "Freedom or Slavery: The Paul Robeson Portfolio," a beautiful collection of lithographs and accompanying quotations created for the Centennial.

  • April, 1998 - The 2,000-square foot Rutgers University exhibit: "Paul Robeson Artist and Citizen" tours Camden, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; City Museum, NYC.

  • April 9, 1998 - The Paul Robeson's 100th Birthday, the centennial year officially begins.

  • April 9, 1998 - University Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive screens three Robeson films, including the rarely shown 1930 film Borderline, in honor of the Robeson centennial.

  • April 10, 1998 - The revival of the musical "Showboat" opens at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.  The BAPRCC works closely with publicists for the show and makes available literature, videos, and CDs.

  • April 21, 1998 - President Bill Clinton sends a congratulatory fax to the Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration in Westchester County, New York.  His letter includes the statement "A century after Paul Robeson's birth, we live in a nation that is stronger because of his vision and eloquent voice."

  • April 26, 1998 - The Unitarian - Universalist Fellowship of the East Bay dedicates its Sunday service to Robeson. 

  • June 28, 1998 - Two booths at The 1998 San Francisco Gay Pride Celebration commemorate Paul Robeson's legacy as civil rights activist. 

  • July 2-30, 1998 - The San Francisco Library presents "Paul Robeson: a Centennial Tribute."  This multi-faceted event includes photographs, a chronology and the screening of six films, all free to the public.

  • July 12, 1998 - The 5th Annual LaborFest presents "A Labor Tribute to Paul Robeson" at the Bayview Opera House.  BAPRCC members Joe Johnson and Alex Bagwell are among the program's performers.

  • August 23, 1998- Conductor Michael Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Symphony again performs "Ballad for Americans," this time as part of the concert at the Band Shell in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, sponsored by.  Musicians Local 6 and the BAPRCC, with soloist Macatee Hollie.

  • Labor Day, 1998 - The BAPRCC is in attendance at the Annual Labor Day Picnic on Treasure Island.  Hundreds of people discover (or rediscover) Robeson, by speaking with BAPRCC members and listening to Macatee Hollie, accompanied by pianist William Duncan Allen.

  • Fall, 1998 - BAPRC educational subcommittee forms under the direction of Betty Brown and Amanda Costello.  The goals include a formal letter to be sent to curriculum directors of Bay Area schools, an upcoming educational fair and making speakers available to schools.

  • October, 1998 - Dr. Charles Wright, author of Paul Robeson: Labor's Forgotten Champion, The Peace Advocacy of Paul Robeson, and founder of the Museum of African American  History in Detroit, visits the Bay Area as guest of the BAPRCC.  He lectures on Paul Robeson's role as a peace maker and speaks to young people at the Alameda County Juvenile Hall.  

  • January 10, 1999 - Education Sub-Committee members, under the direction of Bay Area educators Judy Hirsch and Mary Prophet, put on a Paul Robeson education fair at La Pena in Berkeley.  The fair features a wide variety of books, films, leaflets and school curriculum.  The event is packed with parents, teachers and community members.

  • February, 1999 - The BAPRCC hosts a film and lecture at Claremont House in Oakland.  The film screened is the 1939 "Proud Valley," shot on location in Wales and regarded by Robeson as his favorite.  The directors of Claremont House have kindly made their meeting facilities available to the BAPRCC and it is our way of thanking them.

  • Winter, 1999 - With the Centennial Year nearly over, general committee participation winds down.  The BAPRCC becomes solely an eight-member steering committee (see Our Team), whose main goal will be educational projects aimed primarily at the high school level.

  • March, 1999 - BAPRCC steering committee member Amanda Casabianca travels to Wales, where she spends a week with Martha Edwards, a film extra in "Proud Valley" and curator of "Paul Robeson - Honorary Welshman."  Martha Edwards provides invaluable guidance with regard to creating a permanent Robeson exhibit.

  • Spring, 1999 - The BAPRCC holds a joint retreat with the San Jose Centennial Committee.  The body concludes that the work to bring Robeson into Northern California schools should be given highest priority.

  • April 27, 2002 - The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and the Oakland Unified School District host a celebration ceremony for the naming of the Paul Robeson Oakland Unified School District Administration Building, drawing an overflow audience. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who had earlier stated her inability to be present, flies home from Washington DC, just in time to grace the gathering with her appearance and her heartfelt tribute to Robeson.

  • May 18, 2002 - Concert is held at Peace Arch Park, on US-Canada border, north of Blaine, WA, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Robeson’s concert at the same Free concert at the Peace Arch Park in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, on May 18, 2002 spot on May 18, 1952. In dramatic defiance of government’s ban on his leaving US soil, standing on a flatbed truck parked one foot inside the US border at the Peace Arch, in Blaine, Washington, speaks and sings to a crowd of 40,000 Canadians and Americans gathered on both sides of the border.. The 2002 event is organized by the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, of Vancouver, BC, and the Seattle Labor Chorus. Program features actor and political activist Danny Glover reading Robeson’s May 18, 1952 speech and performances by the Vancouver Jewish Folk Choir, Ronnie Gilbert, activist and member of the legendary Weavers (blacklisted, like Robeson during the "American Inquisition" of the 1940s-50s), poet/singer/songwriter Agrippa, Madeleine Parent (labor hero imprisoned under Quebec's notorious "padlock law"), World War II veteran Alden Bryant (of Berkeley, CA) accompanied by Harold Brown on the original piano played at the 1952 concert. The 3,000 people from Washington State and British Columbia, some of whom are hearing of Robeson for the first time, are able to learn more about his life from educational displays.The issues dear to Paul Robeson - social justice, freedom, and civil rights - are as pertinent today as they were in 1952.

  • February 18, 2004 - The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee, the Oakland District of the United States Postal Service and Merritt College co-sponsor a Stamp Unveiling Ceremony in honor of the issuance of the Paul Robeson Commemorative Stamp, with special guest speakers Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Willie Adams, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), and cultural performances by Merritt students and the Vukani Mawethu, a Bay Area community choir.

  • February 19, 2004 - The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and the African American Leadership Advisory Council of the San Francisco District of the United States Postal Service, Bay View Hunters Point Post Office hold Paul Robeson Stamp Unveiling Ceremony, with keynote speaker San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, performances by four school and community choirs, and a duet from the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee.

  • February 26, 2004 - The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and the Black Faculty and Staff at California State University Hayward present a Paul Robeson Stamp Unveiling Ceremony as benefit for the school’s “Upward Bound” Scholarship Program.

  • April 8 – August 26, 2006 - “Paul Robeson, The Tallest Tree In Our Forest,” a multi-media exhibition at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO).

  • January 5 - February 29, 2008 - Display of Robeson books, CDs, videos, DVDs and posters, Rockridge Branch, Oakland Public Library.

  • February 2 - March 1, 2008 - Display of Robeson books, CDs, videos, DVDs and posters, Cesar Chavez Branch, Oakland Public Library.

  • February 27, 2008 - "Paul Robeson, Words Like Freedom," a CD compilation of Robeson's spoken words, based on programs broadcast on KPFA / Pacifica Radio over the last 50 years, release party at La Peña, Berkeley. (See )

  • March 30, 2008 - The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade unveiled and dedicated a monument to these courageous anti-fascist fighters, many of whom gave their limbs and lives for the cause of democracy in Spain. The fruit of over ten years of planning and wading through government bureaucracy, this long-overdue tribute was finally installed on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, a site where several hundred people, both locals and tourists, walk by every day. The monument includes a 6-foot image of Robeson, with text about his support for the democratic forces during the Spanish Civil War. (See )

  • March 31 - May 3, 2008 - Display of Robeson books, CDs, videos, DVDs and posters, West Oakland Branch, Oakland Public Library.

  • April, 2008 - "Paul Robeson, Hero For All Time," Oakland City Hall.

  • September 18-21, 2008 - “Paul Robeson, Hero For All Time,” Pioneer Art Gallery, Danville, CA.

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