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“And that’s why I am here today.”

A Black man stands in the middle of a crowd, leading it in song

Paul Robeson leads workers at the Moore Shipyard in Oakland, California in singing the The Star-Spangled Banner in September 1942.

...I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the rights of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America. My mother was born in your state, Mr. Walter, and my mother was a Quaker, and my ancestors in the time of Washington baked bread for George Washington’s troops when they crossed the Delaware, and my own father was a slave. I stand here struggling for the rights of my people to be full citizens in this country. And they are not. They are not in Mississippi. And they are not in Montgomery, Alabama. And they are not in Washington. They are nowhere, and that is why I am here today. You want to shut up every Negro who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people, for the rights of workers, and I have been on many a picket line for the steelworkers too. And that is why I am here today.

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson spoke these words to the House Committee on Un-American Activities on June 12, 1956. As a gallery, we work in the activist spirit of Paul Robeson. The truth of his words and the power of speaking truth to power, continues to direct our work in the present.  

To the activists in the streets and those organizing from their homes for the Movement for Black Life: we hear you, we see you, and we are with you.