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Paul Robeson Jr., Activist and Author, Dies at 86

Paul Robeson Jr., who worked to preserve the legacy of his father, died on Saturday in Jersey City. He was 86.

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Paul Robeson Jr., at age 14, with his parents, Paul Sr. and Eslanda, in Enfield, Conn., in 1941., Frank Bauman/Look Magazine, via Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library

Paul Robeson Jr., who worked to preserve the legacy of his father, the actor, singer and civil rights advocate, since his death almost four decades ago, died on Saturday in Jersey City. He was 86.

The cause was lymphoma, his daughter, Susan Robeson, said.

Mr. Robeson wrote two books about his father and created an archive of his writing and films. He aimed to teach new generations about his father’s radical politics and criticized those he thought misrepresented his life, including a 1978 Broadway play starring James Earl Jones, which he protested.

Mr. Robeson worked for many years as a Russian translator and served as a personal aide to his father. In his later years, he wrote books about politics and race, as well as a two-part biography of his father.

He admired his father and noted their similar political views in an interview with The New York Times in 1993 when he published his first book, “Paul Robeson Jr. Speaks to America.”
“I follow in my father’s cultural tradition,” he said, “and like him, I am a black radical.”

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