Campus Academy Youth Reflect On The Legacy Of Paul Robeson

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Beginning Aug 23, 2006, Campus Academy opened its doors to six families
with African American male middle school-aged students seeking
an innovative and advanced learning experience for their children. The
purpose of this academy is to provide African American boys an exceptional
foundation for college achievement, leadership, and world citizenship.
We’re really smart.
All students must have a complete knowledge of the accomplishments and contributions
of Africa-American people! All of the students at Campus Academy are African
American males, and we refer to them as young scholars. Therefore, as they began working
on their submissions for this issue of the Public i, I asked them what they knew about
African American history. I quickly realized that they had received very little educational
exposure to the complete historical accounts of Africans in America and almost no exposure
to the historical or present conditions of Africans on the continent of Africa.
Furthermore, their knowledge of contributions made on their behalf by African Americans
was, overall, very limited. The inquiry even included such people as Nelson Mandela
and the anti-Apartheid movement, Malcolm X, and Paul Robeson and almost every
student struggled to give me any real information about the aforementioned. Now, of
course, this doesn’t shock me. It simply reminds me of the challenges that are still facing
students in the educational system.
A few necessary points must be mentioned at this time. One, the lack of substantial
information being presented to the entire student body regarding African American contributions,
and two, the portrayal of African American history in a way that shapes us as only
slaves, or prisoners. African American history is a part of World History. If one were to
educate children of all races about African American contributions, just as children are
infused with the colonial history of America and the world, perhaps white children would
begin to see the complete story and move away from this idea of privilege based solely on
their “whiteness.” Subsequently, black children will begin to relinquish this idea that their
“blackness” is the reason for their lack of accomplishment. Remember, the myth of white
supremacy was directly connected to “manifest destiny.” This ideology is the basis for justifying
the annihilation of the Native American and the enslavement of the African, thus
leading to the marginalization and outright neglect of children of African descent.
By presenting American children a lopsided and “disuniting” concept of African and
African American history we are guilty of perpetuating racism and classism in the institution
of education. The reason why the submissions from Campus Academy were centered
on Paul Robeson is because he exemplifies courage, discipline, perseverance, and caring.
His life is a testament to the internal drive necessary for the world to truly become a better
place. I pray that you, the reader, will find something in the pieces shared to do two
things. One, demand that your school begins the process of inclusion of African American
history as more than a footnote. Two, start teaching your own children about the true
accomplishments of African American people minus the stereotypical images that are
being portrayed. May the Creator be pleased with our efforts. Peace.
Sis. Carol Ammons
Paul Robeson was a great example for the world. He showed me that there is no limit to
my dreams. Before I learned about Paul Robeson, I thought I could only do one or two
things for a living but that is not true; I can do unlimited things in my lifetime. Paul Robeson
was an African American, whose story related to me as an African American young
man. He also showed me to fight for what I want. Paul achieved lots of things in his life
time such as pro football, pro baseball, activism, he graduated from law school, knew 30
languages and still found time for his wife and family. He achieved a lot of things in his
life. Paul Robeson was a great man, and because of his sacrifice, he opened doors for me.
When Paul Robeson was a child, people always said he would do great things. He was a
well respected actor; singer, football player, lawyer and he had a wife. He traveled around
the world speaking on peace and justice for the poor and working class people. He continued
to fight even when they took his passport away. That tells me that I can do more in
my life, much more. I’ll do greater and greater by helping others and myself. His story
inspired me because it showed me that I can go where I need to go, so I can make the
world peaceful place. And nothing will stop me. This is what I learned from Paul Robeson.
Paul Robeson was “truly the tallest tree in our forest.” His farther once was a slave. So he
did all that he could to be educated. He went to Columbia law school to become a lawyer.
He was famous for singing songs that inspired people all over the world. He made me
want to be educated to the fullest and there is no place to stop to ensure that I am educated.
He also became an activist. He spoke out against the international policies of the
United States government in defense of the Russian people. Then the government took
his passport. In the mist of everything he pulled through and helped all people, including
the United States. I have been greatly inspired by his life and accomplishments.
Since Paul Robeson was a singer that kind of amazes me because I wouldn’t think of him
being a singer. The way Paul did all of those languages was cool because I thought that he
would only speak English. What I don’t really get is why Paul had a concert at the border
of the U.S. But I do feel nice that he was an activist and fought for other people’s rights.
When I learned that Paul’s passport was revoked, I felt bad because he couldn’t go and
have concerts other places but he got his passport back later on and he could go around
the world again.
Paul Robeson’s life inspired a goal for my life in academics and athletics. His life gives me
an idea on how I should live my life. He inspired me to improve my language skills and
learn new languages. He inspired me to be an activist. Can you believe that they revoked
his passport for being an outright supporter of the African and Russian people? He teaches
me to live up to my dreams. He inspired me to never stop even when it gets hard. He
inspires me to be a role model for other people. He inspires me to speak for people who
cannot speak for themselves. I did not know of this great man before we watched a video
documenting his life. Now that I have learned of him, I plan to live up to my own dreams.

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