Thematic Series

Film Screening + Q&A

with Dr. Harold Weaver

At the Association of Slavic, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies convention


The 2020 ASEEES convention will screen the 1989 Kurt Tetzlaff documentary Paul Robeson: I'm a Negro, I'm an American. Special guest Dr. Harold Weaver will join us for the ensuing Q&A and discussion.


  • 6:00-8:00 pm, November 8, 2020


Virtual screening, followed by a discussion with special guest Dr. Harold Weaver (Harvard), moderated by Sky Arndt-Briggs & Mariana Ivanova (DEFA Film Library, UMass Amherst)


Film Link:  

Password: ASEEES2020

(Stream: November 8-22, 2020)


Paul Robeson: I’m a Negro, I’m an American

(GDR/FRG, 1989, dir. Kurt Tetzlaff, 86 min., b&w, EN ST, doc.)


Biographical notes on the American singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson (1898-1976). At the height of his fame and skill, Robeson’s career was cut short by Cold War anti-communist hysteria. This documentary includes historic footage of the US civil rights movement; clips of Robeson’s speeches, performances and visits to East Germany (GDR) and the Soviet Union; and interviews with his son, Paul Robeson Jr., and the musicians and activists Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger and Earl Robinson. Co-produced by the GDR’s DEFA Studio for Documentary Film and the West Berlin production company Chronos, with scenes shot in the U.S.


In the GDR, the American civil rights movement and Black activists were central to socialist solidarity in the international struggle for racial, gender and economic equality. The name of Paul Robeson, doubly admired because of his virtuosity as a singer and actor, was known to every East German. In recounting Robeson’s story, this documentary—now somewhat controversial—expresses admiration for the man and artist, while also making use of his role as a symbol.


Dr. Harold (Hal) D. Weaver, the Founding Chair of the Africana Studies Department at Rutgers University, Paul Robeson’s alma mater, is currently an Associate at Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. A a long-term Robeson scholar-advocate, Dr. Weaver's wide-ranging research, teaching, and publications have addressed topics such as: decolonization and the Cold War, Soviet training and research programs for Africans, the films of Ousmane Sembene, Black filmmakers’ representation of chattel slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the human rights and spirituality writings of African American Quakers.



This event is offered in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The DEFA Foundation in Berlin will restore and digitize this documentary next year, in preparation for the DEFA Film Library release of the film on DVD/streaming in 2022.

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