McQueen, Belafonte to make Robeson biopic

Singer, actor, and activist Paul Robeson wasn’t just a friend to Harry Belafonte — he became one of Belafonte’s chief lifelong inspirations. Now, Belafonte, 87, will have the opportunity to pay tribute to his ultimate role model through film. He is working on a Robeson movie in an unspecified capacity with Steve McQueen, the director whose film “12 Years a Slave” won the Best Picture Oscar this year.

Robeson’s politics were central to his character: He refused to play to segregated audiences and wasn’t afraid to challenge president Harry S. Truman over the epidemic of lynching still plaguing the South in 1946. When the president told Robeson the country wasn’t ready for an anti-lynching law, Robeson told him black citizens would have to defend themselves.

Robeson was an unapologetic leftist and he paid for it dearly. His later years were marked by deep depression, and he spent time in mental hospitals, where he received more than 50 rounds of electroshock therapy.

The Washington Post

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