Black History, Paul Robeson to be celebrated Saturday at Port Arthur Public Library

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

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Local opera singer Richard Perkins’ voice has been compared to that of singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson.

On Saturday, Perkins will present a free program on the late Robeson and also honor a group of locals for Black History Month.

“Here I Stand, The Story and Songs of Paul Robeson” along with a free concert and presentation of honors runs from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 9th Avenue.

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Perkins is presenting information on the famed Robeson, as well as singing.

Black History Month honorees include Hargie Faye Savoy, founder of the Martin Luther King Support Group of Southeast Texas, for her community service; Marjorie Cole for her contributions to music education; and Glenn Alexander Sr. for his work as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Also honored will be music conductor Glenn Alexander II for his musical accomplishments and Major Goldman, music director of Antioch Baptist Church in Beaumont.

Paul Robeson

PBS described Robeson as the epitome of the 20th century Renaissance man — an athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author and political activist.

Perkins explained Robeson was born in the late 1800s and went on to earn a law degree, but due to racial tensions at the time, his career ended early.

From there Robeson got into acting and singing and took up the plight of downtrodden people all over the world.

“He was probably one of the most popular black men in the early 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s,” Perkins said.

Robeson starred in the 1936 film Show Boat of which his rendition of “Ol’ Man River” was highlighted.

The song is one of many that Perkins is known to perform.