A virtual birthday celebration for Paul Robeson on April 9
Paul Robeson in 1925 | AP

LOS ANGELES — Paul Robeson (1898-1976), actor, singer, athlete, civil rights activist, and humanitarian, is the inspiration for The Robey Theatre Company and the man from whom The Robey gets its name. On Friday, April 9 at 6:00 p.m. PDT, The Robey will hold a virtual birthday celebration for Paul Robeson. This is the first of the projected annual celebrations commemorating Paul Robeson.

The Robey Theatre Company’s Producing Artistic Director, Ben Guillory, will make welcoming remarks and speak about the artistic and historical importance of Paul Robeson on the occasion of his 123rd birthday.

Randy Ross, Ph.D., has written a short theatre piece, Essie’s Paul, about Robeson and his wife, Eslanda (Essie) Cardozo Goode Robeson, which will be performed by actors Chauntice Green and Jah Shams.

Actor/songwriter/vocalist Cydney Wayne Davis will perform her original composition Dont Give Up the Fight.

The celebration also features a play reading of Melvin Ishmael Johnson’s short play Revolutionary Genocide, about William Lorenzo Patterson (portrayed by Danny Glover) and Paul Robeson (played by Ben Guillory), who in 1951 at the United Nations, accused the United States of the attempted genocide of Black people because of the Federal government’s failure to pass anti-lynching legislation and its failure to bring the perpetrators of racial murders to justice. Guillory directs the cast, which also includes Melvin Ishmael Johnson, Cydney Wayne Davis, Crystal Nix, and Philip Sokoloff.

Left to right, Danny Glover and Ben Guillory. A photograph of Paul Robeson in his iconic Broadway role of Othello can be seen in the background. / The Robey Theatre Company

The party continues with documentary film footage of Paul Robeson.

Ben Guillory and Melvin Ishmael Johnson will have a conversation with Mary Louise Patterson (daughter of William Lorenzo Patterson) and Susan Robeson (granddaughter of Paul Robeson, pending availability) about the lives of Paul Robeson and William Lorenzo Patterson and their impact on the Civil Rights Movement and their relevance to all of our lives today.

Ben Guillory and Danny Glover will present the Paul Robeson Award to Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas in recognition of his longtime contributions to the artistic, cultural and civic life of Los Angeles.

Finally, Danny Glover and Ben Guillory will make closing remarks. The estimated running time of the entire event is 100 minutes.

This is a free event. Please register for tickets here. After registration, you will be sent a link to attend the event.

The Robey Theatre Company is a nonprofit developmental theatre organization. Feel free to make a suggested donation of $10 to support its ongoing programming.

The Robey Theatre Company was founded 27 years ago by Danny Glover and Producing Artistic Director Ben Guillory with the objective of theatrically presenting stories of the Global Black Experience.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.