Paul Robeson: "I'm a Negro. I'm an American."

84 mins.
Directed by Kurt Tetzlaff
English and German with subtitles
1989

Introduction by Summer Film Institute's co-director Evan Torner, Associate Professor of German Studies and Film/Media Studies, University of Cincinnati.


World premiere of the 4K restoration by the DEFA Foundation in Berlin, Germany, with new English subtitles by the DEFA Film Library.

A cinematic homage to the son of a former slave, the African American singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson (1898–1976). The documentary tells his story in non-chronological order but focuses on certain life situations and important events using a compilation of materials: rarely shown historic footage, photographs of the U.S. civil rights movement, speeches, performances and visits to East Germany and the Soviet Union.

Interviews with Paul Robeson Jr., Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte give insight into the courageous life of a Renaissance man. As a “voice of the other America,” East German officials used Robeson’s image to bolster GDR solidarity with the U.S. civil rights movement.