Paul Robeson (born 1898) was one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century, on account of his extraordinary contributions and achievements on many fronts - acting, singing, the theatre, social and civil rights activism. Robeson remained, to many Americans a much loved and much respected figure and Charles White had captured Robeson as a man of dignity, resolve and destiny, in his circular drawing of the man, used on the cover of Salute to Paul Robeson: A Cultural Celebration of His 75th Birthday. The book had been, as its title indicated, published on the occasion of Robeson's 75th birthday, in 1973. When Robeson passed away in 1976, the New York-based the Paul Robeson Archives, Inc. (which had previously published Salute to Paul Robeson: A Cultural Celebration of His 75th Birthday) published Paul Robeson – Tributes – Selected Writings. It was, as the title of the publication indicated, a compendium of poignant, moving tributes to the great man, followed by an edited selection of his writings and speeches.
Within the publication, Harry Belafonte was listed as having been one of the pallbearers. The extracts from tributes received came not only from established, known figures from various fields, in various parts of the world. Tributes from what might be termed ‘ordinary’ people were also reproduced, such as: “He did so much to unite the human race and give dignity to the working class, that he will live on forever in the hearts and minds of good people the world over.” The quote was attributed to ‘A British Coal Miner’ (page 40).
The cover of Salute to Paul Robeson: A Cultural Celebration of His 75th Birthday had, as mentioned, used a distinctive circular drawing of Robeson. Now, several years later, a detail of the same drawing was used on the cover of Paul Robeson – Tributes – Selected Writings. The image credit on page 2 attributed the cover drawing to Charles White.