A Champion for African Freedom: Paul Robeson and the Struggle Against Apartheid
27 Pages Posted: 30 May 2014
Date Written: May 28, 2014
On February 28, 2013, I was honored to deliver the Paul Robeson lecture at Columbia Law School, an annual event to commemorate the life and legacy of Paul Robeson, a graduate of Columbia Law School (Class of 1923). This article is a slightly expanded version of my lecture.
This article will have four components: first, it will highlight the achievements of this extraordinary man, an advocate for social justice, a world-renowned artist, and an accomplished sportsman. Second, in this article I explore Paul Robeson’s connections and commitment to the African anti-colonial struggle, and in particular the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Third, this article examines the legal developments in South Africa with the collapse of formal apartheid, and outlines the broad contours of the constitutional text, particularly the bill of rights and the constitutional and human rights jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court. Finally, the article will end with the question: what would Paul Robeson say about the contemporary moment that post-apartheid South Africa finds itself in?
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