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Thread: Paul Robeson - Activism and Power

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Paul Robeson - Activism and Power

    You might like movies about people who made a heroic effort for some cause like Human Rights, even when it is just an athlete or some preacher who got a lot of acclaim while doing less than this man. He was an accomplished stage performer and singer. He was a top flight football player and he did more than any other man (arguably) for his people in the 20th Century. Yes, King did a lot and was targeted by Hoover and even Bobby Kennedy authorized wire taps on him - but this man was probably poisoned by the alphabet soup agencies. Martin Luther King also was a lecherous rake and not quite the good Christian you have been lead to believe.

    Getting back to King and Kennedy you might find it enlightening to know just how far the image you have of public people is at variance with the facts - especially when it comes to the Kennedy clan.

    "Rumors of King’s use of church funds to feed his penchant for White prostitutes were circulating in very high circles long before they were made public. US President Lyndon Johnson once called King was a “hypocritical preacher.” Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who signed off on the wiretaps and hotel/motel room electronic surveillance of King, then played audio taped evidence of King’s extramarital affairs at cocktail parties, much to the delight of brothers Jack and Ted, who convulsed in fits of laughter upon hearing them."

    The IDEAS program on CBC has a recording you might want to listen to about Mr. Robeson.

    It makes me sick to see what goes on in many halls of power which are supposed to be halls of Justice.

    "Did the CIA Poison Paul Robeson?

    Counterpunch, 1 April 1999

    Paul Robeson, the black actor, singer, and political radical, may have been a victim of CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb’s MK-ULTRA program. In our last issue we noted Gottlieb’s death and outlined his career of infamy. In the spring of 1961, Robeson planned to visit Havana, Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The trip never came off because Robeson fell ill in Moscow, where he had gone to give several lectures and concerts. At the time it was reported that Robeson had suffered a heart attack. But in fact Robeson had slashed his wrists in a suicide attempt after suffering hallucinations and severe depression. The symptoms came on following a suprise party thrown for him at his Moscow hotel.

    Robeson’s son, Paul Robeson, Jr., has investigated his father’s illness for more than 30 years. He believes that his father was slipped a synthetic hallucinogen called BZ by US intelligence operatives at the party in Moscow. The party was hosted by anti-Soviet dissidents funded by the CIA.

    Robeson Jr. visited his father in the hospital the day after the suicide attempt. Robeson told his son that he felt extreme paranoia and thought that the walls of the room were moving. He said he had locked himself in his bedroom and was overcome by a powerful sense of emptiness and depression before he tried to take his own life.

    Robeson left Moscow for London, where he was admitted to Priory Hospital. There he was turned over to psychiatrists who forced him to endure 54 electro-shock treatments. At the time, electro-shock, in combination with psycho-active drugs, was a favored technique of CIA behavior modification. It turned out that the doctors treating Robeson in London and, later, in New York were CIA contractors.

    The timing of Robeson’s trip to Cuba was certainly a crucial factor. Three weeks after the Moscow party, the CIA launched its disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. It’s impossible to overstate Robeson’s stature at the time and his threat to the America government as a black radical. Through the 1950s Robson commanded worldwide attention and esteem. He was the Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali of his time. He spoke more than twenty languages, including Russian, Chinese and several African languages. Robeson was also on close terms with Nehru, Jomo Kenyatta and other Third World leaders. His embrace of Castro in Havana would have seriously undermined US efforts to overthrow the new Cuban government.

    Another pressing concern for the US government at the time was Robeson’s announced intentions to return to the United States and assume a leading role in the emerging civil rights movement. Like the family of Martin Luther King, Robeson had been under official survelleince for decades. As early as 1935, British intelligence had been looking at Robeson’s activities. In 1943, the Office of Strategic Services, World War II predecessor to the CIA, opened a file on him. In 1947, Robeson was nearly killed in a car crash. It later turned out that the left wheel of the car had been monkey-wrenched. In the 1950s, Robeson was targeted by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist hearings. The campaign effectively sabotaged his acting and singing career in the states.

    Robeson never recovered from the drugging and the follow-up treatments from CIA-linked doctors and shrinks. He died in 1977. Robeson, Jr. has beem pushing the US to release classified documents regarding his father. He has already unearthed some damning stuff, including an FBI “status of health” report on Robeson created in April of 1961. “The fact that such a file was opened at all is sinister in itself”, Robeson recently told the London Sunday Times. “It indicates a degree of prior knowledge that something was about to happen to him.”

    Robeson’s case has chilling parallels to the fate of another black man who was slipped CIA-concocted hallucinogens, Sgt. James Thornwell. Thornwell was a US Army sergeant working in a NATO office in Orleans, France, in 1961 (the same year Robeson was drugged), when he came under suspicion of having stolen documents. Thornwell, who maintained his innocence, was interrogated, hypnotized and harassed by US intelligence officers.

    When he persisted in proclaiming his innocence, Thornwell was secretly given LSD for several days by his interrogators, during which time he was forced to undergo aggressive questioning, replete with racial slurs and threats. At one point, the CIA men threatened “to extend the [hallucinatory ] state indefinitely, even to a point of permanent insanity”. The agents apparently consummated their promise. Thornwell experienced a irreversible mental crisis. He eventually committed suicide at his Maryland home. There was never any evidence that he had anything to do with the missing NATO papers."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-08-2016 at 11:35 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    We hear a great deal about American freedoms and how the founding fathers were activists for equality and fair taxation. It is largely a lie even if you allow for the mores and ethics of a near to feudal era. I support the Enlightenment Experiment even though it was based on dispossession and genocide including biologics used by the likes of Columbus and de Soto. Nothing seems to be what it is - in history.

    Most of the elite landowners in the Colonies were slave owners who feared the changing laws against slavery in France and England would lead to them having to give up assets they loved abusing.

    Most people think Lincoln Emancipated the slaves and yet that too is a lie, he did try to create a force inside the nation he was at war with by freeing their slaves and we can also allow for the prevailing ethic being one which he knew a small change was all that could be achieved. However, you should know he upbraided one of his Generals the year before the Emancipation Proclamation for having freed the slaves in Missouri.

    After the Second World War which saw many brave black airmen finally get a chance to show their metal - though not on an equal footing as the movies thankfully show, we saw the House Un-American Activities behaving in an equally horrid and immoral manner. I have chosen one example most people have never heard about, to illustrate the extent of the continuing cover-ups and lies. This man's son (for good reason) believes his father was drugged in the MKUltra program and thus poisoned to the point of ending a once magnificent and productive life.

    "The Many Faces of Paul Robeson


    How many people do you know who are athletes? How about an athlete who has won 15 varsity letters in four different sports? An athlete who has also played professional football while at the same time being valedictorian at his university? Does this athlete also hold a law degree? How many scholar-athlete performers can you name? Concert artists who have sold out shows around the world and who can perform in more than 25 different languages? Does this scholar-athlete-performer also act in Shakespearean and Broadway plays and in movies? Can you identify a scholar-athlete-performer who is also an activist for civil and human rights? Someone who petitioned the president of the United States of America for an anti-lynching law, promoted African self-rule, helped victims of the Spanish civil war, fought for India's independence, and championed equality for all human beings? Did this scholar-athlete-performer-activist also have to endure terrorism, banned performances, racism, and discrimination throughout his career?

    Paul Robeson was all these things and more. He was the son of a former slave, born and raised during a period of segregation, lynching, and open racism. He earned a four-year scholarship to Rutgers University, making him the third African American to attend the school. There he was a member of the prestigious Cap and Skull Honor Society, played four varsity sports (baseball, football, basketball, and track), won speech and debate tournaments, and managed to graduate valedictorian of his class. After graduation, Robeson applied his athletic abilities to a short career in professional football. Aside from his prowess on the gridiron, he earned a law degree and changed the direction of his career. His legal career was cut short, however, after a secretary refused to take dictation from him solely because of the color of his skin. He left law and turned to his childhood love of acting and singing. Robeson starred in Shakespeare's Othello, the musical Showboat, and films such as Jericho and Proud Valley. He was one of the top performers of his time, earning more money than many white entertainers. His concert career spanned the globe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Moscow, New York, and Nairobi.

    Robeson's travels opened his awareness to the universality of human suffering and oppression. He began to use his rich bass voice to speak out for independence, freedom, and equality for all people. He believed that artists should use their talents and exposure to aid causes around the world. "The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice," he said. This philosophy drove Robeson to Spain during the civil war, to Africa to promote self-determination, to India to aid in the independence movement, to London to fight for labor rights, and to the Soviet Union to promote anti-fascism. It was in the Soviet Union where he felt that people were treated equally. He could eat in any restaurant and walk through the front doors of hotels, but in his own country he faced discrimination and racism everywhere he went.

    While Robeson's activist role increased abroad, he met dissent and intimidation in the United States. Rioters at his concert at Peekskill, New York in 1949 smashed the stage, torched chairs, attacked concertgoers, and threatened Robeson's life. His outspokenness about human rights and his pro-Soviet stance made Robeson a prime target of militant anticommunists. In 1950 the State Department revoked his passport, thereby denying his right to travel and, ultimately, to earn income abroad. Robeson fought this injustice for years vigorously but with no success. He repeatedly applied for reinstatement of his passport but was turned down. He filed a lawsuit against the State Department and faced discouraging delays, adverse decisions, and rejected appeals. Yet Robeson stuck to his principles and refused to swear an affidavit that he was not a Communist. "Whether I am or not a Communist is irrelevant," he told the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956.
    "The question is whether American citizens, regardless of their political beliefs or sympathies, may enjoy their constitutional rights."
    In 1958 the U.S. Supreme Court finally agreed, ruling that the State Department could not deny citizens the right to travel because of their political beliefs or affiliations.

    To celebrate, Robeson gave his first New York concert in a decade at a sold-out Carnegie Hall. But the years of struggle had taken a personal and professional toll. Negative public response and the ban on his travel led to the demise of his career. Before the 1950s, Robeson was one of the world's most famous entertainers and beloved American heroes--once being named "Man of the Year" by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Despite all his accomplishments, Paul Robeson remains virtually ignored in American textbooks and history. The activities here are designed to introduce students to Paul Robeson and his many accomplishments and to address the issue of individual freedom versus national security."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-09-2016 at 07:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    We could all agree that talking to other people who have fixed opinions and who have no interest in learning is more disturbing to intellectuals than it is to those who never attempted to think, and just look for 'easy answers' or whatever works (Makes money or gains sexual advantage). Maybe there are some people who honestly believe they speak to g_d - it was not long ago Americans elected someone who said they got 'direction from a higher authority'. I am not sure that he was just appealing to his fundamentalist demographic because he was holding a book upside down on TV when 9-11 was in progress. Of course we all know how smart many other government officials were that day, but I do not think American media has done as good a job exposing their stupidity during that event and it's subsequent handling, as CBC's Passionate Eye did. Why is that?

    Why are Alien theory shows so popular, along with Atlantis, and political debates with no political platforms ever addressing what our future holds? I used to watch Sunday morning shows rather than cartoons but now it hurts my head to see more "Testifying" fence posts and apocalyptic fear-mongering. They still maintain they know the age of rocks and sing Rock of Ages as they fleece each other and screw every woman they can (Swaggart, et all). The pedophiles get to avoid paying court awarded damages, and also are still not paying taxes. Some of these cretins are allowed to kidnap and use brainwashing techniques like overt hypnosis, all of them do it to some degree.

    What me worry? It is the very best place to live, with total freedom and democratic principles that protects the whole world against bad people everywhere. If you do not believe that just ask ten Americans on any street corner.

    Unlike his father Paul Robeson Jr. was a member of the Communist Party. He went to school with Stalin's daughter and when the McCarthy era was long behind the revolting history which US citizens cringe from if they have any morals he returned to help revive his father's image. He died recently.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-13-2016 at 03:40 PM.

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