Paul Robson (center), All-American athlete, singer, actor and civil rights activist. PHOTOS provided by Paul Robson House


Paul Robson (center), All-American athlete, singer, actor and civil rights activist. PHOTOS provided by Paul Robson House

Paul Robson was not just an all-American athlete or an experienced singer and actor.

He is well known as a defender of civil rights.

The history of his achievements and political activism will continue in memory through a new scientific program that was launched on his behalf by the Paul Robson House in Princeton.

The scientists will be awarded during the celebration of Paul Robson Week in 2022, which takes place from 4 to 9 April. The award ceremony is scheduled for April 9 at the Princeton Arts Council from 10 a.m. to noon.

“We thought there were a lot of talented high school students, and in the first year we wanted to go to public schools first. We wanted people who could represent the talents that Paul Robson showed in his youth as a scientist, activist, artist and athlete, ”said Dennis Leslie, vice president and managing director.

Information and a flyer for the science program were originally published on The Paul Robeson House website in late January. The application process then closed on March 4, and the board selected six scholars for the first-ever selection of The Paul Robeson House scholars.

“This program didn’t take time to convince people that it was a great idea. We knew there would be candidates who would be so great, “said Leslie.” Scientist Robson is a young man fully engaged in his craft of learning, and they are not only learning but also able to perform and achieve in one or more fields. [athlete, artist and activist]. They expose themselves, they are involved in life and they are leaders. ”

The Scholars program is also a way for The Paul Robeson House to connect with high schools and get certain people to continue to know about Paul Robson.

There is no quota for the number of scientists that can be selected each year.

The program was the brainchild of Joy Barnes-Johnson, chair of the Paul Robinson House Program Council, and was designed as a mentoring and leadership program similar to the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars program.

“Most of Jackie Robinson’s scholars have a college degree. For the Paul Robeson Scholar program this year, we had 15 high school entrants nominated for the Robeson Fellowship, ”Barnes-Johnson said. “We have opened the process of nominating student teachers, sports directors, advisors, self-nominated students and parents.”

She added that they always hope with the program that they will interest young people in Robson and his time in American history.

Six fellows have been announced as Robeson Scholars for 2022 in the first year of the program.

“I am very happy to have scientists this year and hope for the best. “I work with high school students and I always say,‘ Rejoice when you start, they’ll come, ’” Barnes-Johnson said. “I hope we can expand the program to include other students from across the state. Here we are with Paul Robson, who is approaching his 125th birthday next year and his work, and we want to make sure that his legacy remains in our institutional memory. He was a man of the Renaissance in a wonderful time in American history. “

Public high school students could be nominated from high schools in Princeton, Trenton and New Brunswick, which are the three districts in which Robson spent his childhood.

“Each applicant was asked to create a vision of social justice for their generation. They were asked to give a vision of a worthwhile program or idea that supports Paul Robasson’s legacy of social justice, ”Barnes-Johnson added. “The second thing we asked them to do was confirm their leadership and / or talent. We then asked them to name the advisor or supervisor we could consult with if we had any questions. ”

All six high school students selected to become Robson Fellows in 2022 are from Princeton High School (PHS).

These are seniors Joycene Brobie (artist) and Modizola Aedel (athlete); Jalin Vega-Ramas Jr. (activist); sophomore Christopher Foreman (athlete); and freshmen Asma Qureshi (activist) and Shina Ash (artist).

“I am delighted that four of the six students will return as high school students next year. Two students are graduating and we will mentor and monitor them remotely when they enter college, but four remain local, “Barnes-Johnson said.” Potentially we have three years to watch them grow and develop. “Everyone described visions and programs that would be incredible if they led them.”

Brobie said she and her parents gave up everything: “Me, my name; my parents, their jobs, my home, and my family to migrate to America in search of better opportunities. ”

“I am working with the BELE network and the National Equity project to work together to develop a fairer and healthier school environment for all students,” she said. “I am confident that with the resilience and determination I have gained through overcoming the challenges I faced as a black immigrant, I will succeed and create a better world for colored students across America.”

Aodel has created and joined many resources for herself and her peers to talk about her struggle, whether it be mental health, the struggle to be a person of color (POC), or to fight with the LGBTQ + community, etc.

She is a leader in her CARE club, which means cultural and racial justice, and is a member of the Student Advisory Committee.

“My talent to be a great footballer has positively influenced my personality to help in my work on social justice,” she said in a statement. “As a goalkeeper, you need to be loud on the field, you are the eyes of the whole game, and with that power comes great responsibility. I use this responsibility to be not only high-profile in the field, but also in my community when it comes to social justice issues. ”

Vega-Ramos said she imagines a world in which there will be experienced women, girls, transgender men and non-binary people who are menstruating and stop stigma.

“Many people do not have a complete and accurate understanding of menstruation as a natural biological process. Menstruation education can boost confidence, promote social solidarity and eliminate stigma, ”she said. “The stigma of the end of the period is what I imagine changes. I am making changes in my community and developing a deeper understanding of how global issues can have partial solutions, just starting at my school. ”

Foreman added that athletes are more than players who play their sport, they are artists and influential people.

“There always seems to be a wave of athletes in society pushing awareness to the causes. I strive to be one of those athletes who not only manages to realize their own dreams, but also helps others realize their own dreams, ”he said in his excerpt from the student vision. “I could use my talents to address health, racial inequality and world peace.”

One of the main hobbies and talents for Qureshi is art and graphic design. Qureshi loves to draw and design for fun and enjoyment.

“We all need to find time to see what we can do to make changes, big or small. Everyone has a talent, find it and use it to change the situation … “- said Qureshi in a statement on the vision.

Ash said she wants her voice to be a sunshine coming from behind the clouds.

“Show beauty … that this wave can be overcome [we are all trying to get over of pure dread]”- added Ash. “I don’t want my voice to just promote justice, I want my voice to promote justice, acceptance, feelings all over the Earth, because in the end we can do it. We are all in the same boat. “

Programs offered by scholars include the use of social consciousness to transform the school curriculum, the study of how athletics is used to build bridges between races and genders, and interfaith stability and the belief that people understand that being a refugee means others allow people to find a place . shelter and space and welcome them into the community ”.

The scientists were awarded the title of “Robson Scholar” in three categories – artist, athlete and activist. By 2022, two Robson scientists have been named in each of the three categories.

Robeson scientists will receive $ 500 each, as well as teachers, as the program continues to evolve from the first-ever selection of Robeson scientists.

“We are 100% hoping to be able to expand across New Jersey and start in Princeton, Trenton and New Brunswick because he went to school in those communities and his family represented pupils and school-age children in Trenton. New Brunswick and Somerset, ”Barnes-Johnson said. “We want people to recognize the leadership potential of our scientists and we want the stakeholders of our community to understand that young people can learn a lot.”

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