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March 26, 2010
City of Toronto unveils ‘Contributions to Humanity’ poster in celebration of the achievements of Paul Robeson
Mayor David Miller, along with members of Toronto City Council and City of Toronto staff, today unveiled the first poster in the Contributions to Humanity poster series. The poster celebrates the many achievements of Paul Robeson throughout his lifetime.

“Mr. Robeson’s powerful legacy transcended international borders and political beliefs,” said Mayor Miller. “He was a lawyer, actor, athlete and an activist who struggled for workers’ rights, world peace, social justice and equality for all. We are proud to recognize his contributions as a formidable and trailblazing leader.”

Paul Robeson was born on April 9, 1898, the youngest son of a minister who had been a slave. In 1923, Robeson earned a law degree from Columbia University, financing his schooling by playing professional football. While at Columbia, Robeson was discovered by Eugene O'Neill in an amateur play. After making his professional debut in Taboo (1922), Robeson then appeared in O'Neill's All God's Chillun Got Wings, and Emperor Jones. He went on to stage successes such as Show Boat; Porgy and Othello, and toured in America, England, Germany, Austria, France and Russia. He performed at Toronto’s Massey Hall in 1956.

Robeson's political affiliations and artistic career have, at times, attracted equal publicity. These included receiving the Abraham Lincoln Medal for notable and distinguished service in human relations; leading protests against racist policies of South African government; urging protests against jailing of black leaders in Kenya; and marching in picket lines in Windsor, Ontario in support of the Dodge workers’ strike.
Paul Robeson died at age 77 on January 23, 1976.

Since 1993, the City of Toronto has recognized the achievements of Canadians with a poster series that profiles the contributions of Canadians, past and present, who have distinguished themselves in diverse endeavours. The new Contributions to Humanity poster series is international in scope.

For more information about the Contributions to African Canadian poster series and the Paul Robeson’s Contributions to Humanity poster, visit

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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