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Civil Rights Activist Celebrated in Chappaqua

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - With Black History Month underway, community members gathered at the Chappaqua Library on Friday to celebrate the life of civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

The event's speaker, Marian Davis, chose to honor Robeson due to his belief that the activist has been unfairly remembered for his criticisms of the United States government and his close ties with the Soviet Union.

"This is a dream come true. I've always admired Paul Robeson since I first learned about him," said Davis. "I realize there are some people, when you mention Paul Robeson, that say he's a communist, he's this or that. Anything but positive."

To honor the activist, Davis performed musical selections that Robeson himself would often perform in concerts and films, including "Deep River," "Let My People Go," and "Old Man River."

An excerpt from the film "Here I Stand" was also shown. The film depicted how Robeson's up-bringing and career as a professional football player, concert singer and actor shaped his political views.

The event was organized with the help of Wayne Bass, New Castle's former assistant superintendent of the recreation and parks department. Bass took over as White Plains recreation and parks commissioner in January, but returned to fulfill his promise to Davis.

"Dr. Davis told me that he would love to do a tribute in honor of Paul Robeson, and of course I took him up on it," said Bass.

Davis ended the tribute by having members of New Castle's senior programs join him in the singing of "Jacob's Ladder."

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