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American singer, athlete, writer, civil rights activist, socialist and oh so much more Paul Robeson today in 1952 stood on the back of a flat bed truck on the US side of the US-Canadian border and sang of solidarity to an estimated 40,000 Canadians. His act was in defiance of a passport ban prohibiting him from leaving the US because of his left-wing political views and civil rights activities.
In his book, Here I Stand, Robeson ends with the poem Rail-Splitter Awake by Pablo Neruda, saying this ‘speaks for me’
Let us think of the entire earth
and pound the table with love.
I don’t want blood again
to saturate bread, beans, music:
I wish they would come with me:
the miner, the little girl,
the lawyer, the seaman,
to go into a movie and come out
to drink the reddest wine . . .
I came here to sing
And for you to sing with me