Riot at Robeson Concert 1949

Paul Robeson dared to promote peace with the Soviet Union and express his belief that African Americans should not go to war for a country that tolerated lynching and segregation. That was enough to label him a communist in the eyes of Americans in the grips of Cold War hysteria. When word spread in the local papers that Robeson was scheduled to sing in Peekskill, New York, a mob gathered at the concert site. The concert was postponed after the crowd became violent—throwing stones, smashing chairs, and burning Robeson in effigy. Robeson was able to perform a few days later, but many of his fans were beaten as they left.