Radio Times

‘Eslanda,’ a new look at Paul Robeson’s remarkable and underappreciated wife

February 15, 2013

GUEST: BARBARA RANSBY

Paul Robeson, one of the most interesting figures of the 20th Century, has been the subject of dozens of books. Not so his remarkable life partner, Eslanda “Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson, an unsung heroine of the Civil Rights struggle and one of the most important and fascinating black women of the last hundred years. An anthropologist, journalist, activist against sexism, colonialism and racism and internationally sought-after speaker whose travels took her to colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution, Essie Goode Robeson’s life has been for too long ignored. Now, her story is told by BARBARA RANSBY, a University of Illinois at Chicago historian, writer, and longtime political activist, whose previous biography, 2003’s “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision,” won many awards. Ransby joins guest-host Tracey Matisak in studio to discuss her latest work, “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.”

AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman

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