"FREEDOM CAN BE OURS, HERE AND NOW": RARE ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF PAUL ROBESON'S FIRST BOOK, HERE I STAND, BOLDLY SIGNED BY HIM, ALONG WITH SIGNATURE OF HIS SON, PAUL ROBESON, JR.
ROBESON, Paul. Here I Stand. London: Dennis Dobson, (1958). Octavo, original burgundy paper boards, original dust jacket. $3500.
First edition of Robeson's powerful first book, signed on the title page by him along with signature of his son, author and activist Paul Robeson, Jr., who devoted his life to civil rights and his father's legacy, this especially memorable association copy also with a laid-in program of Robeson's historic August 10, 1958 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall and a ticket stub from the performance.
"One of the major performing artists of the 20th century, Robeson's achievements as a stage actor, movie star and singer are individually outstanding but collectively astounding. He was easily the most influential Black entertainer of his day… He protested the segregation of organized baseball, appeared frequently at union and labor meetings, delivered anti-racist lectures during concerts, joined the pan-Africanist Council on African Affairs, and quit Hollywood because 'the industry is not prepared to permit me to portray the life or express the living interests, hopes and aspirations of the struggling people from whom I come'… His legacy, as Sidney Poitier noted, was profound: 'Before him, no Black man or woman had been portrayed in American movies as anything but a racist stereotype'" (ANB). Targeted by the FBI, CIA and Department of State for decades, blacklisted with his passport revoked in the 1950s, Robeson died in 1976 after a long illness. At the news, Coretta Scott King "deplored 'America's inexcusable treatment' of a man who had had 'the courage to point out her injustices.'"
At his funeral in Harlem, Robeson was eulogized as a leader who "tried to live 'with dignity' and… 'bore on his body marks of vengeance'" (Buhle, Encyclopedia of the American Left, 655, 549-50). First edition, first printing: copyright page with "First published in Great Britain in 1958"; no statement of edition or printings. Precedes the first American edition. This distinctive association copy features the signature of Paul Robeson, Jr., who died in 2014 and throughout his life worked "to preserve the legacy of his father." As an author and outspoken civil rights activist, he had served as his father's personal aide and, in a 1993 interview, said: "I follow in my father's cultural tradition and like him, I am a Black radical" (New York Times). Containing laid-in program from Robeson's August 10, 1958 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, along with a ticket stub and marginalia to one program page, likely in the hand of this copy's original owner. Book with purchase stub affixed to preliminary blank page, containing small notations: "Purchased at… London, W.I., England… Autographed by the author" and owner inscription. Title page with marginalia below the signature of Paul Robeson, Jr., stating in part; "February 3, 1984… Kalamazoo Michigan."
Book fine; light edge-wear, mild soiling to scarce near-fine dust jacket.