International symposium
Paul Robeson

With Jared Ball, Lisenne Delgado, Mohammed Elnaiem, Gerald Horne, Tania Christina Monteiro, Anne Wetsi Mpoma, Shana L. Redmond, Machiri, Mireille Tsheusi Robert, Louna Sbou & Sylvana Simons
21.10.2022 & 22.10.2022

Saturday 22 October 2022
Music and Militancy

Robeson burst into international fame as a unique ambassador of the Black spiritual musical tradition. Here, his ambition was implicitly revolutionary, namely to raise the stature of the spirituals to the level of classical music and in so doing, build appreciation and acknowledgement for the creative genius of Black people in general. In his early concert programmes he worked with composer and arranger Lawrence Brown to present the Black spiritual tradition in a way which would garner global appreciation and respect; a kind of musicological militancy where he performed spirituals side by side with classical music to great acclaim. This strategy was undeniably successful and his performances galvanised audiences around the world. Building on this accomplishment, Robeson embarked on a musicological quest to prove how the various musical traditions of the world were related. This search for universal humanity also spurred his studies of languages and he became a polyglot competent in over 15 languages. In this section of our symposium, we examine Robeson's method of music as militancy and explore to what extent this pertains to our contemporary conditions.


Lecture & workshop: Robeson & Cabral: Tania Christina Monteiro & Lisenne Delgado
Tania Christina Monteiro and Lisenne Delgado will convene a workshop on the intersections in the life, art and militancy of Paul Robeson and Cape Verdean poet, engineer, revolutionary and pan-Africanist Amilcar Cabral.

i Mix What i Like: Jared Ball
Jared A. Ball will present a special version of his legendary morning programme on ‘i Mix What i Like’, with a unique analysis of current events, media and propaganda as well as reflections on Black culture and militancy today. This event will be streamed live simultaneously on the Black Power Media channel and will feature Dr. Ball’s faithful, brilliant and extremely critical audience in the live chats.

Everything Man: Shana L. Redmond
In her book ‘Everything Man’, Shana L. Redmond traces Robeson's continuing cultural resonances in popular culture and politics. She follows his appearance throughout the twentieth century in the forms of sonic and visual vibration and holography; theater, art, and play; and the physical environment. Redmond thereby creates an imaginative cartography in which Robeson remains present and accountable to all those he inspired and defended. In this session, Redmond will revisit urgent themes she elucidated through her research in the context of current struggles.

Artist as Revolutionary: Gerald Horne
Our year-long project dedicated to Paul Robeson is named after Gerald Horne’s biography of the visionary entertainer, intellectual and militant. In this session Dr. Horne will discuss Robeson’s life and work, his struggles, triumphs and persecution. Connecting to another one of his nooks ‘Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music’, Dr. Horne will examine the possibilitiies and limits for musicians to further emancipatory agendas in the context of contemporary conditions of imperialism, colonialism and white supremacism.

Robeson Meets Padmore: Re-enactment of an encounter: Mohammed Elnaimi
Besides New York, London was the place Robeson could most often be found at the height of his career. In London, Robeson had his breakthrough on the stage. And while this eventually opened up access for him to the highest levels of British society, his intellectual and political commitments drove him into the vibrant urgency of the British labour movements, where he would build lifelong friendships. As a special presentation in the symposium, Mohammed Elnaiem presents a re-enactment of a visit by Paul Robeson with Trinidadian poet and pan-Africanist George Padmore in 1930s London.