Paul Leroy Robeson was an American bass baritone concert artist and stage and film actor who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. Educated at Rutgers College and Columbia University, he was a star athlete in his youth. His political activities began with his involvement with unemployed workers and anti-imperialist students who he met in Britain and continued with support for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War and his opposition to fascism. In the United States he became active in the civil rights movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
In 1915, Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers College, where he was twice named a consensus All-American in football, and was the class valedictorian. Almost 80 years later, he was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He received his LL.B. from Columbia Law School while playing in the National Football League. At Columbia, he sang and acted in off-campus productions.