This blog is about Paul Robeson and my husband.
My husband is a huge fan of Paul Robeson, the actor/singer/lawyer/athlete/activist who died in 1976 at age 77. Hubby recently presented a talk about Mr. Robeson that got me thinking about love.
Paul Robeson exhibited love in his daily life. He sacrificed his career, his livelihood, his reputation, his mental health and, ultimately, his physical health for love. Paul so loved freedom that he acted on his values and convictions, regardless of the consequences he ultimately endured.
Paul Robeson, an internationally renowned star, reminds me of another man I knew, a local civil rights leader named Leroy Boyd. Leroy died in 2010 and was recently memorialized at the annual banquet of the organization he helped to found in Pensacola, Movement For Change.
Speaking at the event, the Pensacola police chief admitted to not always seeing eye-to-eye with Leroy, but he delivered the most favorable comments. Leroy called the chief often to discuss and attempt to resolve issues of discrimination and sometimes violence carried out by the police department toward someone in the community, usually a minority.
The chief closed his comments by saying that, whatever one thought of Leroy’s opinions, one had to admire his passion. In all the times Leroy called the police chief, he always called to help someone else, never for his own benefit.
Paul Robeson and Leroy Boyd both exemplify the power that love has to transform lives. Their commitment to others, to a better world, to a world that they knew was possible is a reflection of their belief in love as a healing force. They gave of themselves even when their gifts were not appreciated or acknowledged at the time.
In her article “Primal Reverence,” Kendyl Gibbons writes that “the primal experience of reverence … Comes in the stories of human experience that move us with their courage, with their dedication to justice or beauty, with their embrace of sacrifice for the larger good.”
Gibbons lists people such as the Rwandan hotel keeper Paul Rusesabagina who sheltered 1,268 refugees to protect them from the genocide, Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and now politician who faced oppression and 15 years house arrest but continued to push for democracy for her people of Myanmar.
To this list I would add the names Paul Robeson and Leroy Boyd.