Paul Robeson became involved in politics in response to the Spanish Civil War, fascism, and the social injustices. It was during this time that Robeson reevaluated his career and decided to use his talents to highlight the plight faced by what he referred to as, “the common people.” In 1946, he founded the American Crusade Against Lynching. Robeson also worked closely with trade unions as he believed they were integral to the success of winning the battle for civil rights. Robeson is well known for standing up to the FBI and American governments blacklisting of him during the McCarthy Era for his refusal to sign an affidavit stating that he was not a communist.
The following interview occurred on February 8, 1958. Robeson was interviewed by Elsa Knight Thompson and Harold Winkler. He discusses what his life was like as the son of a former slave as well as his views on socialism that led him to be an expatriate during the 1930’s. In addition, he reflects on the civil rights movement and the issues facing emerging African nations.