(Born: April 9, 1898. Died: January 23, 1976). Paul Robeson’s life is an interesting one to say the least. In 1915 he became the third African American to ever enroll at Rutgers University and after his enrollment, Robeson decided to try out for the football team. During tryouts, the other members of the team engaged in unwarranted and excessive play which resulted in Robeson’s nose being broken and his shoulder being dislocated. After sustaining these injuries the coach at the time Foster Sanford declared that Robeson had made the team. During his college years Robeson was also a member of the Debate team and even became class valedictorian. After his time at Rutgers, Robeson attended New York University School of Law for a brief time before transferring to Columbia law school where he graduated with his law degree.
Robeson’s story does not end there however, He also played professional football for a time for the Akron Pros and the Milwaukee Badgers. After his football career ended, Robeson began to pursue acting and singing, landing roles in Othello and Show Boat. He then became involved with the civil rights movement and even went so far as to criticize the US government and become affiliated with communism bringing on scrutiny from the FBI, he was even denied a passport. Due to the controversies surrounding his political beliefs, his income decreased tremendously and his health plummeted and he died following complications from a stroke.