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Paris museum's fresh look at the legacy of performer-rights campaigner Paul Robeson

By Rosslyn Hyams

Culture in France this week climbs to a niche in the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris, for a small but powerful exhibition about the life and times of Afro-American international actor, singer, rights campaigner, Paul Robeson.

"Paul's influence, along with others, was massive, even if he's not talked about so much these days," remarks Paris-based US Opera Singer Howard Haskin.

Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda Goode, a scientist and rights campaigner, were part of a generation of Black, or African, Americans who were trail blazers in the 20th century. Robeson. They fought for equal rights, at home and abroad, and beyond skin colour or race.

The exhibition at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum shows him as a multi-faceted man of the world, cosmopolitan and outreaching, a sort of "man for everyman and everywoman".

He was part of a pan-Africanist movement which stretched from the US and Caribbean to England, Africa and the Soviet Union, and as well as being a gifted man, he was an advocate of humanity.

The objects, photos and information panels explain his political and social interests. Archival sound recordings are marked with age, and are valuable witnesses to his courage and openness as well as too his talent.

The exhibition curated by Sarah Frioux-Salgas runs till 14 October 2018.

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