Paul Robeson is an icon of the African-American community. Although he died 40 years ago, he’s still remembered for his activism, his poise and his amazing voice. All of these qualities are on full display in a rare, inspiring vintage clip from 1960, in which Robeson not only breaks down the dignity of being an American of African descent, but also reads the white colonialist power structure for filth.
Robeson gracefully answers questions from white hosts on the Australian talkshow “Spotlight,” about African-American identity in the video, posted by Facebook user Memnon Uzan on Aug. 22. He laments the fact that African Americans are second-class citizens despite their contributions to American culture and society.
Later in the clip, Robeson (born and raised in America) is asked by one of the hosts whether he feels Africa is more of a home to him than America.
To this Robeson eloquently replies:
“I would say unquestionably that I am an American. Born there, my father a slave there. Upon the backs of my people was developed the primary wealth of America. The primary wealth... There’s a lot of America that belongs to me, yet.”
The actor and singer then continued to explain that the same way in which a Scottish American is proud to be from Scotland, he too is proud to be African, despite “school books [telling] us all Africans were savages.”
“I’m an American who is infinitely prouder to be of African descent,” Robeson says. “No question about it.”
Watch the full clip above.