Paul Robeson Jr

Paul Robeson Jr was the grandson of a slave, and son of a prominent and controversial African American actor, singer, and activist.

Formally trained as an electrical engineer, Robeson soon followed in the footsteps of his famous father, becoming an activist in his own right.

He also spent time organizing and archiving his father’s papers, films, and music memorabilia.

I first met and interviewed Paul Robeson Jr. In 1993. We met again in 2007, when he wrote a book called A Black Way of Seeing.

And keep your mind open as you hear this interview, Robeson will challenge you to think differently about everything, regardless of your background.

So here now, from 2007, Paul Robeson Jr.

Paul Robeson Jr. died in 2014. He was 86.

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bell hooks

Photo: Alex Lozupone

How and where do race, gender, class, art, and capitalism come together?

That question was at the heart of some 30 books written by author bell hooks.

That was actually the pen name that Gloria Jean Watkins adopted for herself.

But being a black female activist and feminist also often made her a target.

In her 1999 book Remembered Rapture hooks recalled some of her challenges as a writer and activist and that’s when I have the chance to meet her for the first of our several conversations.

So here now from 1999 bell hooks.

bell hooks died last month. She was 69.

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Barack Obama

A few years before he was an Illinois state senator, long before he became a U.S. Senator and years before the nation elected him our first African-American president, Barack Obama was a law professor and community organizer.

Barack Obama
Photo: Official White House Photographer

Just before he went off to law school, Obama traveled to Kenya to learn more about his father, and to try and put some perspective on his mixed-race heritage.

The result was his book “Dreams From My Father.”

So here now, from 1995, Barack Obama.

Tomorrow, August 4th, is Barack Obama’s 59th birthday.