75th Anniversary Of Peekskill Riots Celebrated With Grammy Performances Honoring Paul Robeson

June 20, 2024

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Peekskill Riots, and to commemorate the 75th anniversary.

The Living Artist Society will present a program entitled “Here I Stand” after the seminal book of the same title written by Paul Robeson. There will be two performances featuring a Grammy Award-winning performer: a fundraising Gala on Thursday, September 12, 2024, at 6:00 pm at the Hollow Brook Golf Club, located at 1060 Oregon Road in Cortlandt Manor, NY, and a Community Concert on Sunday, September 15, 2024, at 3:00 pm at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, located at 1008 Brown Street in Peekskill, NY. The program will shed light on the riots and celebrate Paul Robeson’s legacy as an iconic artist and advocate for civil rights.

“… one of the most influential artists and advocates of social justice in his era.”

“On this 75th anniversary of the Peekskill Riots, we will commemorate this national history and share important memories of our local community,” said Wendy Talio, Founder of the Living Artist Society and Event Chair. “We’re very honored that Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Mark S. Doss will be joining us in this mission with a performance that will take attendees on a journey through Robeson’s life with his repertoire and that is fitting of Robeson’s enduring legacy as one of the most influential artists and advocates of social justice in his era.”

“… an … benefit the Harlem chapter of the Civil Rights Congress.”

Paul Robeson was one of the most beloved artists of the 20th century and a figure of international importance in civil rights history. In 1949, Robeson came to sing for peace at an outdoor concert just outside Peekskill to benefit the Harlem chapter of the Civil Rights Congress. Despite the threat of violence, Robeson and some 20,000 concertgoers showed up in solidarity. The aftermath of this concert would go down in history as the Peekskill Riots, a pivotal moment in our history, where violence was ignited by racism, antisemitism, and a deeply rooted distrust, leaving hundreds of people seriously injured, and setting the stage for what would become the civil rights movement. 

This celebration will consist of one performance and two events, as attendees will be transported through history with a performance by Mark S. Doss, a Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone, who will take everyone on a journey through Robeson’s repertoire performed with principals of Pegasus: The Orchestra led by artistic director and principal conductor, Karen Hakobyan from piano. Aaron Mair, a recognized leader in the national movement for environmental justice, will host the performance and provide the historical backdrop with eyewitness accounts and other personal stories. The original “Hollowbrook Drive-in Theatre” sign, autographed by Pete Seeger and owned by Thom Wolke, will be displayed at both performances; it is on permanent loan to the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame Museum at the Boch Center in Boston, MA, and was also featured on Antiques Roadshow.

In addition, visuals from local historical sources will round out the experience. Proceeds from the fundraising Gala will be used to establish the Robeson-in-Peekskill Foundation, which will promote positive change in our communities through the work of artists.

“I am honored to perform at this year’s events and am excited to celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Robeson through his music,” said Mark S. Doss.  “I have been awestruck on more than one occasion after hearing online commentary of Robeson’s where he mentions his rationale for placing certain songs in a particular order, where he said, “I put this song here, because it belongs there”; in my own rendition of Ol’ Man River I put Paul’s name at the end, because it belongs there!”

To purchase tickets for the fundraiser Gala and learn more about the available sponsorship opportunities or donate, please visit https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/living-artist-society/campaigns/6283.

To purchase tickets to the Community Concert, please visit https://paramounthudsonvalley.com/events/here-i-stand-paul-robeson-a-life-and-legacy-in-word-and-song/.

The Community Concert is made possible with funds from Arts Alive, a regrant program of the Arts Westchester with support from the Office of the Governor, the New York State legislature, and the New York Council on the Arts, and the support of the Community Partner, Arts 10566.

The proud event committee for both events includes Wendy Talio (Event Chair), Founder of the Living Artist Society; Natasha Cherny, Principal of Cherny Concert & Artist Management Ltd.; Jelle Simons, Author, Journalist, and Historian; and Sarah Underhill, Environmentalist, Clearwater Board member. The Community Advisors for both events include Lawrence Anthony, Arne Paglia, and Earl Powell. 

Living Artist Society

Living Artist Society promotes cultural exchange through the arts, to aid in community development and support arts and culture professionals in the lower Hudson Valley. Living Artist Society manages community projects from conception to execution and provides strategic planning and marketing resources to arts and culture professionals in the process, with the aim to support the efficacy of arts and culture to amplify positive impact for all. Living Artist Society is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Living Artist Society must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. For more information about Living Artist Society, please visit their website at www.livingartistsociety.com.  

The Robeson-in-Peekskill Foundation

The Robeson-in-Peekskill Foundation will promote positive change in our communities through the work of artists. The goal of the Robeson-in-Peekskill Foundation is to create a shared common knowledge of this history through annual events, educational outreach, and eventually a visible permanent memorial. Inspired by the legacy of Paul Robeson, the Foundation will stimulate the longstanding and important tradition by empowering artists to change the world for the better through their art.

Photo credit: !) Paul Robewn. 2) Peekskill.

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