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Remembering Paul Robeson Rudd

July 9, 1974 – April 28, 2020

Paul’s Obituary from the New York Times

RUDD–Paul Robeson Rudd died unexpectedly in his home in New York City on April 28, 2020. He was born in Philadelphia on July 9, 1974, to Sue LeGrand and Mark Rudd, who named him in honor of the great Paul Robeson. A brilliant person, Paul was also modest, kind, generous, and extremely thoughtful about how to make the world more humane and just. He was admired and loved by his colleagues, friends, and family.

Mark’s Paul Robeson Story

Paul didn’t use his middle name, Robeson, but there’s a story about that which my father loved to tell.  First, you’ll need a little background.  My father graduated from Rutgers University in 1932.  One of the things he was proudest about was that Rutgers was where Paul Robeson had gone to school a decade earlier.  He was only the second Black student ever to attend Rutgers.

Paul’s mom, Sue, and I admired Paul Robeson, who had stood steadfast against American imperialism and racism, despite all sorts of government pressure.  He also was a brilliant singer, actor, lawyer, linguist, and athlete. 

My father told this story many times:  When Paul was about five years old, my father took him to Penn Station (railroad) in Newark.  They were sitting on a bench when an elderly black man sat down next to Paul and began a conversation.  “How old are you, little boy?” the man asked.  “I’m five,” Paul said.  “And what’s your name,” the man followed up.  “Paul Robeson Rudd!,” said Paul.  Well, the man almost fell off the bench.  He stood up, stuck out his hand, and said, “Well, let me shake the hand of the man who’s named after my life-long hero, Paul Robeson.”  Paul stuck out his hand and said, “Thank you!”

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