Family Legacy

Paul Robeson Jr.

Paul Robeson Jr.

Paul Robeson Jr. was born on 2 November 1927 in New York City and died in 2014, aged 86. He was a writer, a lecturer, the archivist of his father’s work, a Russian translator and a qualified electrical engineer. He attended school in Moscow, high school in Connecticut and gained a degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1949.

Robeson Jr. devoted his life to preserving his father’s legacy. He established the Paul Robeson Foundation and the Paul Robeson Archive – alongside others. He supported the Paul Robeson Wales Trust who organised the Let Paul Robeson Sing exhibition, which told the life story of Paul Robeson. He oversaw his father’s (and - his mother’s) records, diaries, speeches, photographs and memorabilia.

Robeson Jr. challenged many books written about his father and wrote his own two-volume biography on his father called The Undiscovered Paul Robeson.


Paul Robeson Jr speaking with students

Paul Robeson Jr laying a wreath on the Spanish Civil War plaque

Robeson Jr. argued that the ‘US melting pot image’ should be replaced with a mosaic, where there would be more freedom to retain any differences, cultural or otherwise, and still be part of American society’. The ‘melting pot’ metaphor implies that all cultures meld together, as if they were metals being melted together. He also contributed to engineering, Russian translation, curatorial and archival management and research and writing with the same greatness and adaptability as his father.

Robeson Jr. shared his father’s friendship with Wales and the miners of south Wales. In 1998, at Robeson’s centenary concert, Robeson Jr. invited the Onllwyn Male Voice Choir to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York and was later invited to become Vice President of the choir.

Paul Robeson Jr giving his lecture at the South Wales Miners' Library, 2008.

In 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the NHS, he spoke at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. In July 2008, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Swansea University in recognition of his work maintaining the progressive, cultural and educational links between Wales and America.

Robeson Jr. always felt very welcome whenever he visited Wales. He believed that the black community and the Welsh miners both shared the same kind of strength that they showed in the face of adversity and that their connection was no accident.


“I have never been so moved as by your music, and today I felt as if I were at home as part of an extended family. I will always have that feeling, and so will my wife”. Paul Robeson Jr.



Susan Robeson

Susan Robeson giving a talk about her grandfather Paul Robeson, at the Black Mountain Centre, Brynaman.

Susan Robeson, Paul Robeson’s granddaughter, lives in New York City. She is an author and a documentary film and television producer. She spent much of her childhood with her grandparents. One of her earliest memories is attending the recording studio for the Transatlantic Exchange in 1957.

Susan visited the National Eisteddfod in 2010 which was held in Ebbw Vale. The last time it was held there was in 1958 – when her grandfather visited. She was moved by the warmth and generosity she received. She knew how important Wales was to her grandfather, but didn’t realise how important he was to Wales. During her visit, Susan gave a number of lectures across south Wales and held workshops for young people where she spoke about her grandfather and his legacy.

Susan continues to promote the legacy of her grandfather and recently published a book ‘Grandpa Stops A War’ which tells the story of his visit to the frontlines during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).



Paul Robeson Foundation:

Susan Robeson: