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Columbia Law School Alumnus Paul Robeson Honored With U.S. Postal Stamp

By Michael Larkin

Paul Robeson, Jr., speaks at the ceremony unveiling the stamp honoring his father.

Columbia recently welcomed the family, friends and admirers of one of its most accomplished graduates when the United States Postal Service unveiled the Paul Robeson commemorative stamp at a special ceremony hosted by The Center for Contemporary Black History.

Robeson, Law, '28, was a seminal figure in black American history during the 20th century where he used his popularity as a singer and actor to speak out against civil and social injustices.

"This stamp is a symbol of our nation's recognition of Paul Robeson's service not only to America but the world," said Paul Robeson, Jr.

Speakers that included, President Lee C. Bollinger, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Provost Alan Brinkley, Law School Vice Dean Richard Briffault, New York Postmaster Vinnie Malloy and Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin, director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies, spoke of Robeson as a man of "great spirit," "intellectual integrity" and "unique courage."

Manning Marable, founder of the Institute for Research in African American Studies and the current director of the Center for Contemporary Black Studies, described Robeson as "one of the greatest and most extraordinary Americans of the 20th or any other century."

Columbia has honored the life and legacy of Paul Robeson through the Annual Paul Robeson Conference and Gala, hosted by the Columbia Law School Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and the Annual Paul Robeson Lecture, held by the Law School's Center for the Study of Law and Culture. Leading scholars including Manning Marable, Cornel West and K. Anthony Appiah, a professor of Afro-American Studies of Harvard University, have given past lectures.

Paul Robeson fellowships have also been established by the Institute of Research in African American Studies. Current Robeson fellows are Tiffany Ford, Tikia Hamilton, Natasha Korgaonkar and Jamie Whitfield.

The Robeson commemorative stamp is the 27th installment in the Black Heritage Series, which includes the images of Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., Langston Hughes, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and A. Phillip Randolph.

Published: Oct 15, 2003
Last modified: Oct 14, 2003

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