Twenty-five years later after his graduation, Paul Robeson returned to New
Brunswick to perform a Benefit Concert for the Service Council that was
raising money to establish an Urban League in New Brunswick. That Benefit
occurred on Sunday, August 27, 1944 at Voorhees Chapel on the New Jersey
College for Women campus (now known as Douglass Campus);
seventy-five years ago this month. At the time of this Benefit, Paul Robeson,
who was portraying his most highly acclaimed role of Othello on the
Broadway stage, took time out to perform this concert.
The concert raised a profit of $1,341. Today, that amount, to more than $19,500.
Much of the proceeds from the Benefit gave the Service Council the needed funds to apply to National Urban League for an affiliation charter. After a two-year process of seeking to establish an Urban League, on October 11, 1945, the Service Council became the Urban League of Greater New Brunswick, an affiliate of National Urban League. In the summer of 1983, the Urban League re-incorporated as the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick. The financial support received from the Benefit Concert, places Dr. Paul Leroy Robeson among the founders of today’s Civic League of Greater New Brunswick.
Over the years, the League has attempted to highlight Paul Robeson’s accomplishments through its Paul Robeson Humanitarian Awards to Nancy Wilson (1976), Ossie Davis/Ruby Dee (1977), Dick Gregory (1978) and Gil Nobel in 1979. The annual Paul Robeson Summer Basketball tournaments, 1976-83 and in 1984, working with the New Brunswick Board of Education to re-name the Nathan Hale School, the Paul Robeson Community School. More recently, the League played a critical role in changing the name of Commercial Avenue to Paul Robeson Boulevard.
Moving forward, plans for the redevelopment of Feaster Park, located adjacent to Paul Robeson School and borders on Paul Robeson Boulevard, will have a newly created Paul Robeson statute erected within the next two years. We are not finished yet!
The accompanied student articles attempted to profile Paul Robeson from their perspective, if Paul Robeson was alive today.
The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick’s over-arching vision is to support the educational achievement of students in the greater New Brunswick community to become academically sound on par with others in the county and state.