Robeson Jr returns to Swansea to receive University Fellowship honour
Paul Robeson Jr, the only child of legendary American singer, actor, and human rights campaigner Paul Robeson, has received an Honorary Fellowship from Swansea University.
Paul Robeson Jr received the award during the degree ceremony for the School of Arts (Media and History courses), for sustaining the special cultural and progressive relationships established by his father between the peoples of the United States and Wales.
Paul Robeson identified with the struggles of the South Wales miners who campaigned for the return of his passport during his persecution throughout the McCarthy era.
Paul Robeson Jr is an honours graduate of Cornell University in Electrical Engineering, and a member of the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame.
He served as his father’s aide and personal representative for more than 20 years and, since his father’s death in 1976, is the archivist of the Paul Robeson and Eslanda Robeson Collection and Executive Director of the Paul Robeson Foundation.
Paul Robeson Jr’s first association with Wales occurred in 1957 when he literally ‘engineered’ the historic trans-Atlantic telephonic link between his father singing and speaking in a New York studio and the South Wales Miners’ Eisteddfod in Porthcawl.
Paul Robeson Jr has maintained his links with Wales after his father’s death in 1976 through several lecture tours.
In particular, he visited Swansea University to deliver public and undergraduate lectures, including the Annual South Wales Miners’ Library lecture and the Annual Eileen Illtyd David Memorial Lecture.
And in 1998 he arranged for Onllwyn Male Voice Choir, of which he is a Vice-President, to sing in the Paul Robeson Centenary Concert in Carnegie Hall, New York.
He is committed to building links between the Paul Robeson Foundation, Swansea University and academic institutions in the US.
He became Honorary President of the Paul Robeson Wales Trust in 1999 and visited the South Wales Miners’ Library in October 2007, when he presented the Welsh Assembly Government-sponsored ‘Let Paul Robeson Sing!’ exhibition to the University.
Speaking after the ceremony, Paul Robeson Jr said: “It is specially rewarding and inspiring to be here on this occasion at Swansea University. I will cherish the Honorary Fellowship and its symbolic context as the greatest honour and privilege of my life.”
Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies, said: “Paul Robeson Jr has played a monumental part not only in keeping the legacy of his father alive over the years, but through his own contributions, building upon and extending that legacy.
“He has contributed considerably to Swansea University’s cultural wealth with his lecture tours and through the exhibition presented to the South Wales Miners’ Library last year.
“Paul Robeson Jr’s devotion to his father’s work is truly inspirational and Swansea University, particularly through the South Wales Miners’ Library, is rightly proud of our enduring association with him.”
For more information about Swansea University Graduation Week and this year’s Honorary Fellows, visit the Graduation website.