08-19-2017  1:43 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Screens at New Performing Arts Center, Federal Way

Free screening follows the day after official ribbon cutting of the arts center ...

Join a Book Club at Your Neighborhood Library

At North Portland Library, Pageturners Black Voices focuses on books written by and about African and African American authors ...

Meeting of the NE Community Development Oversight Committee

The fourth meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 23 ...

Health Share of Oregon Invests $3M in Community Health Workers

Investment will improve health care access, quality and outcomes for Oregonians who face barriers to care ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

SEIU’s President: No Place for White Supremacists in the White House

Mary Kay Henry makes following statement on Trump’s remarks after violence in Charlottesville ...

It’s Time to Show “Middle Neighborhoods” Love, Before It’s too Late

Middle Neighborhoods, School Rehabilitation and Food Insecurity are key action items for the policy agenda of the CBC. ...

Despite Unequal Treatment, Black Women Will Rise

NNPA Newswire Columnist Julianne Malveaux talks about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day ...

PCC Cascade President on Free Tuition Program

Any student who qualifies for the Oregon Promise can attend most in-state community colleges tuition-free ...

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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