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(Royal Academy of Music / Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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The Robeson Spirit

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The only known recording of Paul Robeson (1898-1976) singing "Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees" can be heard in the collection On My Journey, the first Smithsonian Folkways release in the African American Legacy series, co-presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The legendary Robeson—athlete, lawyer, actor, singer, civil rights activist—made the recording at a friend's New York City apartment in 1955, when Robeson was being persecuted by the State Department, which revoked his passport for eight years beginning in 1950 because of his forceful criticism of racist U.S. policies. "Let Us Break Bread," an old spiritual, was an anthem of the Underground Railroad.

Listen to Paul Robeson sing "Let Us Break Bread"

Music courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Please click here to purchase or for more information

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