Canoe Song

Episode Air Date: January 20, 2017
Artist: Paul Robeson
Recording Title: Canoe Song

How Paul Robeson started making one film, and ended up making another altogether.

You’re listening to Robeson sing Canoe Song, from the 1935 film Sanders of the River. When Paul Robeson took the role of Bosambo, convinced filmmakers intended on portraying the African leader with dignity. By the time he’d seen the final cut he’d changed his mind.  There had been major plot revisions, the effects of which made the film decidedly pro-imperialism.  Bosambo himself was portrayed Robeson later wrote that “it is the only one of my films that can be shown in Italy and Germany, for it shows the Negro as Fascist States desire him – savage and childish.”

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