• Oscar Brown, Jr.

RIGHTEOUS TRAP

While he played the murderous "Moor"

Had "The Emperor Jones" lines to deliver

Played a singing stevedore

Or the role of "Sanders Of The River"

Paul Robeson found work to do

On the screen and stage

Concert appearances, too

He was all the rage


Yet up at the pinnacle

Where he found himself frequently working

He discovered cynical

Forces of racism were there lurking

He saw that the time was ripe

For his strong black face

Only if their stereotype

Determined its place


But as he felt himself grow

From discoveries, he made as he traveled

To new places where he'd go

His white audiences become baffled

More and more he lends his name

To black people's cause

And the more black he became

The less white applause


He said: "artists have the right

"To be slaves or to fight to be free"

As he joined the freedom fight

No alternative to that did he see

Struggling with all his might

By both word and deed

Confident he saw the light

Robeson took the lead


Politically incorrect

In the land of which he is a native

Robeson now sees himself checked

By those who find him far too persuasive

His passport is snatched away

Into exile hurled

Confined to the U.S.A.

He's denied the world


Now, enemies have him destroyed

Gradually engagements diminish

He finds himself unemployed

Until his career comes to a finish

Without audience and wealth

Robeson after a while

Aging and in failing health

Accepts his exile


He who'd done so much to stir

A great battle for black liberation

Found that when it did occur

He himself was left in isolation

Younger voices that had burst

On the scene were heard

People forgot who'd come first

Bringing the good word


Yet, the courage he displayed

The commitment of his time and talents

Prove to be enormous weighed

Now in history's balance

History that must disclose

As we might well guess

Paul Robeson was among those

Trapped in righteousness


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