Paul Robeson with Julian Bond at the home of Dr. Horace Mann Bond and Mrs. Julia Bond

Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Mosley took this picture of a young Julian Bond, the future civil rights leader, and singer Paul Robeson during a party at Bond’s parents’ home in 1949. Robeson was hugging the boy as he sang “The Four Insurgent Generals,” an anti-Franco, Spanish loyalist song. As Bond later explained, “The thing I remember most about the picture is I am standing right there next to Robeson. My body is pushed up against his chest and the vibrations were just remarkable. That deep, deep voice was just a buzz, a hum. It was magnificent. I knew he was famous. I knew he was a singer. I didn’t understand anything about the political role he played in American life, but I knew he was somebody.”

Bond became an influential politician, professor, and writer. He was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an organization that staged sit-ins, and organized the Freedom Rides of 1961 and the March on Washington of 1963. He also helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center and served as its president from 1971 to 1979. Bond enjoyed a distinguished career in the Georgia legislature and in academia.

Robeson was renowned for his extraordinarily deep voice, and is especially remembered for his portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello on Broadway and for his performances of George Gershwin’s “Ol’ Man River.” He became an outspoken voice against fascism and for US intervention in World War II. With W.E.B. Du Bois, was a founding leader of the Council on African Affairs. Blacklisted by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War era, Robeson lived in Philadelphia until he died in 1976.

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