This is a long article about an anti-Communist, racist, and police riot on a Paul Robeson concert in New York in 1949. I didn’t know about this one, and thought I’d post it here for anyone who might be interested. Courtesy of Aljazeera:
On the chaotic Sunday afternoon of September 4, 1949, truncheon-wielding police officers and stone-throwing rioters descended on cars belonging to the racially integrated audience of an outdoor performance by the singer and activist Paul Robeson.
Minutes after relaxing on blankets listening to Let My People Go and other songs from Robeson’s well-known repertoire, drivers and passengers girded themselves as rioters screamed at them: “Dirty Jews!” “Lynch Robeson!” and “Go back to Russia!”
Some exited their cars to fight back; others were dragged from them and beaten. The violence left at least 150 audience members with broken bones, lacerations, bruises, black eyes and other injuries. That no one died was a marvel. Concert attendee Woody Guthrie, riding back to New York City on a bus filled with shards of shattered window glass, confessed to his seat neighbour, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot.”
Speaking at a news conference in Harlem the following day, a still-shaken Robeson indicted the violence, singling out the police in particular as “fascist storm troopers”. Of course, it was only four years since the end of World War II, what many of Robeson’s leftist colleagues called the “war against fascism”.