06-25-2017  8:35 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

Temperatures expected to climb into the upper 90s this weekend ...

Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

Portland Musician, Educator Thara Memory Dies

Grammy-winning Trumpeter, composer, teacher died Saturday at the age of 68 ...

St. Johns Center for Opportunity to Host Meet the Employer Event June 27

Employers represented will include Mary’s Harvest and Del Monte ...

New Self-Defense Organization Offers Training to Youth in Multnomah County

EMERJ-SafeNow offers July classes for children ages 8-10 and youth ages 15-19 ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

Bill Maher Betrayed Black Intellectuals

Armstrong Williams talks about the use of the n-word and the recent Bill Maher controversy ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

"At a time when most Black women suffered painfully circumscribed lives, Eslanda Robeson enjoyed enormous mobility... For most of her life, Essie was a traveler, both literally and metaphorically.

She transcended class and cultural boundaries and crossed international borders; she conversed in multiple languages and traveled to nearly every corner of the globe. Essie Robeson's story is about one woman's journey across the vast and volatile landscape of 20th Century world politics and culture…

But it is not a singular story. It is a story of a marriage and a partnership that was fraught with complications, but which ultimately endured." 

-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 1)

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1896, Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson was a descendant of slaves and Sephardic Jews. Although there were enormous barriers encountered by African-Americans during the early 20th Century, she somehow managed to gain admission to an Ivy League school, Columbia University, at a time when most black women worked as domestics and most black males had to settle for menial labor.

After earning a B.S. degree, Essie landed a job as a chemist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. In 1919, while still living in New York City, everything changed the day she met Paul Robeson, who was then a law student at NYU. The two fell madly in love, married a couple of years later and eventually had a child together.

Blessed with a powerful, bass-baritone singing voice, Paul opted to pursue an entertainment career over the practice of law, with Essie serving as his business manager. Everyone knows that he went on to become an international icon, first as an entertainer, then as a blacklisted civil rights advocate.

However, his wife was every bit as interesting, and her compelling life story is the subject of this fascinating biography by Barbara Ransby. For, despite the trials and tribulations of a rocky marriage and of having Paul, Jr. to raise, Essie remained a fiercely-independent trailblazer in her own right, whether attending graduate school, writing books, or railing against racism, sexism and colonialism.

Above all, Eslanda Robeson was an outspoken peace pilgrim with an enviable, global network of friends and supporters, even if she would become a pariah in the United States because of being an outspoken advocate of progressive politics. This fact is reflected in the book's 30+ pages of photographs, in which we find her in the company of such luminaries as Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev, Dr. Martin Luther King, novelist Pearl Buck, U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, playwright Eugene O'Neill, Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah and poet Langston Hughes.

A poignant portrait of a peripatetic, human rights activist willing to challenge oppression of any form wherever she could find it.

 

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