top of page


By Paul Von Blum

Illustrations By Elizabeth Von Notias

& Ramsess


Biography/ African American History

ISBN-13: 978-1-934389-81-2
Price: US $16.99
eBook ISBN: 9781934389829
eBook Price: US $16.99
December 24, 2013


B/W Illustrations

"What is America? It is a nation of white, black, red, brown, and yellow. Black coloration has affected all areas of this land. And if we were to choose an exemplar of that color and that influence, Paul Robeson would be that choice: a unique mountain of a man in all things of brain and brawn, yet most importantly, courage. Paul Von Blum has captured the great excitement of this man, this mountain, with beautiful illustrations by his daughter to project the story of his life. Read, America, as it should be read."

– Ed Asner, American film, television, stage, and voice actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild.


Paul Robeson, despite being one of the greatest Renaissance figures in American history, still remains in relative anonymity. An exceptional scholar, lawyer, athlete, stage and screen actor, linguist, singer, and civil rights and political activist, he performed brilliantly in every professional enterprise he undertook. Few humans have achieved his levels of excellence in one field, much less several. Any serious treatment of civil rights history and radical politics as well as American sports, musical, theatrical, and film history must consider the enormous contributions of Paul Robeson.


And yet, Paul Robeson remains virtually unknown by millions of educated Americans.  People typically know him for only one, if any, of the major successes of his life: the concert singer best known for “Old Man River,” the star of Shakespeare’s Othello on Broadway in the early 1940s, the political activist blacklisted for his radical views and activism during the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Paul Robeson For Beginners is here to demystify and bestow light and long overdue credence to the life of this extraordinary American.


Paul Von Blum is Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA.  He has taught at the University of California since 1968, serving 11 years at UC Berkeley before arriving at UCLA in 1980.  He is the author of six books and numerous articles on art, culture, education, and politics.  His most recent book is “A Life at the Margins: Keeping the Political Vision,” his 2011 memoir that chronicles almost 50 years of political activism, starting with his civil rights work in the South and elsewhere in the early 1960s. 


Ramses is a self-taught artist who works in multiple media ranging from ink to acrylic to mosaic to glass to cloth. As an ardent fan and lover of blues and jazz music, much of his art is a reflection of that love, honoring the musicians and the music they create. Throughout the year, Ramsess can be found at many of the national jazz and blues festivals. 

Elizabeth Von Notias was trained professional at the California Institute of Arts and at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles, with a focus on graphic design.  Since her student years, she has created paintings, mixed media works, and illustrations, and she assisted in a major mural project in Los Angeles.  She has shown her work in several individual and group exhibitions through the Southern California region.  Her works are in many private collections. Elizabeth has collaborated with Paul Von Blum in illustration of his book, Civil Rights For Beginners.


Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, June 12, 1956
This is the transcript of Robeson's trail before the HUAC. "Many African-American witnesses subpoenaed to testify at the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings in the 1950s were asked to denounce Paul Robeson (1888–1976) in order to obtain future employment."

Teaching With Documents:
The Many Faces of Paul Robeson

A short, informative introduction to Paul Robeson.

Paul Robeson's IMDb Page
An overview of Robeson's screen work.

Paul Robeson Cultural Center - Penn State
"The Paul Robeson Cultural Center provides programs and services that encourage the appreciation of the diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultures of many under-represented communities that comprise the student, faculty, staff, and community population of University Park and State College, Pennsylvania." 


Armentrout, Barbara, and Sterling Stuckey, Paul Robeson’s Living Legacy, Chicago: Columbia College and Paul Robeson 100th Birthday Committee, 1999.

Balaji, Murali, The Professor and The Pupil: The Politics and Friendship of W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, New York: Nation Books, 2007.

Belafonte, Harry, My Song, New York: Alfred Knopf, 2011.

Bogle, Donald, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Film, New York: Continuum Publishers, 1995.

Boyle, Sheila Tully and Andrew Bunie, Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement, Amherst. MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.

Brown, Lloyd, The Young Paul Robeson, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

Caute, David, The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Davis, Lenwood, A Paul Robeson Research Guide, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982.

Dorinson, Joseph and William Pencak, editors, Paul Robeson: Essays on His Life and Legacy, Jefferson, NC: McFarland Company, 2002.

Duberman, Martin, Paul Robeson, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1988.

Editors of Freedomways, Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner, New York, International Publishers, 1998.

Foner, Henry, editor, Paul Robeson Speaks, New York: Citadel Press, 1978.

Hill, Errol, Shakespeare in Sable, Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981.

Holmes, Burnam, Paul Robeson: A Voice of Struggle, Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1995.

Paul Robeson Foundation, Paul Robeson: Bearer of a Culture (exhibition catalogue), New York: The Paul Robeson Foundation with the New York Historical Society, 1998

Robeson, Paul, Here I Stand, Boston: Beacon Press, 1988 (originally published 1958).

Robeson, Paul, Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: An Artist’s Journey, 1898-1939, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2001.

Robeson, Paul, Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom, 1939-1976, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2010.

Robeson, Susan, The Whole World in His Hands, Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1981.

Swindall, Lindsey, The Politics of Paul Robeson’s Othello, Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2011

Stewart, Jeffrey, editor, Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Stuckey, Sterling, “I Want to be African”: Paul Robeson and The Ends of Nationalist Practice and Theory, 1919-1945, Los Angeles: UCLA Center for Afro American Studies, 1984 (reprint)


Paul Robeson often performed the song "Joe Hill, which celebrated the life, and mourned the death, of the Swedish-American Industrial Wokers of the World labor agitator and songwriter Joe Hill."


Paul Robeson - Ol' Man River (Showboat - 1936) 
Paul Robeson may be best known for this song.

Paul Robeson - "Joe Hill"
"As [Robeson's] political views became more radical, his concert and recording repertory began to include topical and protest songs dealing with themes that reflected his social ideology." The video below is Robeson singing the labor ballad about the industrial worker, Joe Hill.

* If any of the videos do not work or have been removed, please notify us via email at

Thank you and enjoy!

Anchor 1
bottom of page