Eslanda "Essie" Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin's Russia, and China two months after Mao's revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment—an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women's rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband.
In this masterful book, biographer Dr. Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating Black women of the twentieth century.
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Dr. Barbara Ransby is a widely acclaimed historian of the Black Freedom Movement, award-winning author, and longtime activist. She is the John D. MacArthur Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Black Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also directs the Social Justice Initiative, which promotes connections between academics and community organizers working on social justice. A founding member of Scholars for Social Justice, she works closely with activists in the Movement for Black Lives and The Rising Majority. She is an elected fellow in the Society of American Historians, as well as a recipient of the Angela Y. Davis Prize for public scholarship from the American Studies Association. Ransby is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century and Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.
Dr. Lynette Jackson is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Black Studies at UIC. She received her PhD in African History from Columbia University in 1997. Dr. Jackson is the author of Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe and numerous other articles and book chapters on topics relating to women, the state and medical and public health discourses in colonial and postcolonial Africa, particularly having to do with the regulation of African women's sexuality. Dr. Jackson is currently working on research for a forthcoming critical biography of Winnie Mandela.