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.
- 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
March 28, 1998 - Lloyd Brown
speaks at the African American Community Service agency in San Jose,
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.
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,
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
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
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
February 19, 2004
- The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and the African
American Leadership Advisory Council of the San Francisco District of
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”
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
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
Robeson's spoken words, based on programs broadcast on KPFA / Pacifica
Radio over the last 50 years, release party at La Peña, Berkeley.
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.
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.