Saturday, October 9, 2010

One Way to Get Your Name in the News

Link to October 9 Philadelphia Daily News article, "College Republicans campaign to take Paul Robeson's name off library at Rutgers-Camden".

Excerpt: "Although he was a very intelligent and gifted man, Paul Robeson made a very unfortunate choice. He was a personal admirer of Josef Stalin," Opczynski, of Palmyra, told the Daily News. "My problem is Rutgers placing this man, Mr. Robeson, on a pedestal considering his unsavory, almost disgraceful past."

Supporters of Robeson, including former students who championed naming the library for him in 1991 and a large contingent of history professors at the school, quickly fired back, claiming it's better to ask why Robeson felt alienated by his own country and turned to socialism, than to condemn his decades-old decisions.

"I thought the Cold War was over, so why people are trying to resurrect ghosts from the Cold War is a mystery to me," said Wayne Glasker, associate professor of history and director of African-American studies at Rutgers-Camden. "I would think people would be a little more concerned about terrorism or the economy, not whether Paul Robeson was a communist or not."

Robeson graduated from the Rutgers main campus in New Brunswick with honors, but according to the Paul Robeson Foundation, the school played a part in minimizing his accomplishments during the Cold War. He's since been inducted into their Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Buildings on all three campuses now bear his name.

"There are no plans for Rutgers-Camden to rename the Paul Robeson Library," spokesman Mike Sepanic said.

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