Robeson's son Paul Robeson, Jr. and actor Avery Brooks — who portrayed the legend on Broadway in an homage titled Paul Robeson — will be on hand for the commemoration ceremony in Robeson's hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, Jan. 20 at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton University. Though the actor and singer did not star in the premiere of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Showboat, the show's song "Ol' Man River" (which was penned with the African-American in mind) would become his signature tune. Robeson would later star in a London staging and subsequent Broadway revivals of the musical. Other stage roles for the one-time athlete include The Emperor Jones, Black Boy, John Henry and Othello.
Throughout his life, Robeson also worked tirelessly for the causes of civil rights and social justice. The performer died Jan. 23, 1976 at the age of 77.