On Oct. 18, 1944, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for his achievements in the arts.
Roberon was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on April 9, 1898. He went on to become one of the most prominent performers during the Harlem Renaissance, appearing in many productions including The Emperor Jones and All God's Chillun Got Wings.
The son of an escaped slave, Robeson actively spoke out against racism and became deeply involved in the civil rights movement. His refusal to publicly rebuke his beliefs led him to be blacklisted from films in the 1940s and 1950s.
On Jan. 23, 1976, Robeson died at the age of 77 after suffering a stroke.
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(Photo: H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)