Paul Robeson Institute

Paul Robeson Institute

The Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Social Justice was founded in 1999 to preserve Paul Robeson’s legacy in the area where he came of age as an artist, athlete, orator, and scholar. The Institute envisions a global community of diverse cultures that embodies, through attitudes and behaviors, Paul Robeson’s ideals, beliefs, values, and vision for a world of justice and peace.

Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson

About Us

The Paul Robeson Institute offers:

  • The Paul Robeson Resource Room, located in the College’s Evelyn S. Field Library, is an information center for Robeson’s national and worldwide activities. Established in 2003, the Resource Room serves as a repository for educational materials, historical records, and memorabilia of Robeson’s Somerville years and the worldwide accomplishments of people of African American descent.  The Resource Room affords students and members of the community a quiet place to research and study.
  • Cultural happenings such as exhibits, lectures, concerts, and artistic events
  • Programs that emphasize the core values needed by young adults for leadership roles and civic participation in the 21st Century

Mission Statement
The mission of the Paul Robeson Institute at RVCC is to provide resources and programming in various mediums that embodies the core values based upon Paul Robeson's vision for ethics, leadership and social justice for diverse communities and cultures while offering opportunities for civic participation and strengthening community partnerships.

Paul Robeson Biography

Paul Robeson: Activist, Artist, Athlete, Orator, Scholar, Statesman
Paul Robeson, the son of a runaway slave, became in his time one of the best known men in the world. He grew up in the Raritan Valley Community College area.
An outstanding student and orator, Robeson was valedictorian of his graduating classes at Somerville High School and at Rutgers University. He excelled as an athlete at both institutions.

Widely honored and acclaimed as an actor on stage and screen, Robeson also was a noted concert artist. He often used the folk songs of varied peoples as vehicles for social protest and political activism.

Robeson left a legacy of achievement, courage, integrity and leadership. His commitment to equality and social justice for all people and his strong support for political causes defined his life and endeared him to the world.


The Institute provides programs for the College and the community.  Annual programs include:

Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Award

The awards, which were established in 1990, honor outstanding high-achieving African American students in the areas of scholarship, athletics, the arts, and community service. Students in Somerset and Hunterdon counties are nominated by their guidance counselors, teachers, and school administrators for these prestigious awards.  Nominated students must be Black/African American, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and attend school or live in Somerset and Hunterdon counties.

For more information regarding these awards, please contact: Rhonda Stewart or

Paul Robeson Institute Lecture

The Paul Robeson Institute invites famous authors and scholars to speak about Black history and the consequences of racial prejudices for our society. The lectures focus on the achievements and accomplishments of African-Americans and their impact on society.

Black History Month Program

February celebrates the cultural, artistic, athletic, and scholarly achievements of Paul Robeson and other African-Americans who made contributions of various kinds to enhance our American society. The Paul Robeson Institute supports the numerous events that are presented for Black History Month at RVCC.

Celebrating Robeson Week

Celebrating Robeson Week - 2024 schedule to be announced January 2024

Community Partnerships

National Council of Negro Women, Raritan Valley Section

Girls to Women Conference
The Girls to Women conference is a collaboration between Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) and the Raritan Valley Section - National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). The goal is to inspire young women of color from local high schools to be their personal best and to empower them with tools and information to make strategic choices as they mature into adulthood and approach college and/or career decisions. This program provides teenage girls and high school guidance counselors with opportunities to mutually explore and identify the challenges that confront young women of color and examine positive strategies for supporting them.  

Girls to Women Conference Collegiate Edition
The Girls to Women Collegiate Edition conference is a collaboration between the Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Social Justice at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) and the Raritan Valley Section-National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) The Collegiate Edition is an extension of the High School program to support the female students of color at RVCC. The goal is to inspire, uplift and encourage the students to be their personal best and empower them with tools and information to make informed decisions while at RVCC and their future career aspirations.


Sister2Sister has provided years of breast health advocacy, education, and survivor support to the Central New Jersey Community, S2S CNJ website. Sister2Sister is a 501©3 organization, a Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization.  S2S was formed in January 2000 and serves as a critical resource for women battling the disease of breast cancer.  Because underserved women have the highest breast cancer mortality rate, the organization’s mission is to alert communities, families, and the media to the devastation breast cancer causes in the under-served community.  S2S has provided years of breast health advocacy, education, and survivor-support to the Central New Jersey Community.


A great amount of information on resistence to slavery and oppression is available online Just a small number of applicable web sites are listed below. Many of them provide links to related sites, including the Public Broadcasting System stations and their programs, the History Channel and National Geographic.

Books by and about Paul Robeson
A comprehensive bibliography of books for adults and children about and by Paul Robeson and his life.

Books, videos and other research materials, donated by William “Buzzy” Hundley, a member of the Paul Robeson Institute Advisory Committee, are available in the Paul Robeson Institute Resource Room at the Evelyn S. Field Library. The collection is available to the community for reference and research.

The LEARNING PAGE - click here
From Slavery to Civil Rights: A Timeline of African-American History (interactive)

The New Jersey African American History Curriculum Guide, Grades 9 to 12
This valuable curriculum guide, authored by Larry A. Greene, Ph.D. and Lenworth Gunther, Ph.D., integrates the historical experiences and contributions of African Americans into the full spectrum of American history programs at the secondary level. Created to fulfill requirements of legislation passed in 1988 which authorized the New Jersey Historical Commission to create these materials, the guide is now available in this digital format.

African American History Digital Library
This vast directory of online resources addressing the full spectrum of African American history provides access to documents, research collections, museum collections, pamphlets and literature, newspaper archives, and exhibitions by major institutions.

Center for Anti-Slavery Studies
The Center for Anti-Slavery Studies provides an extensive listing of web sites related to the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements in Pennsylvania and other states in the nation. Web sites offering student activities and lesson plans are specially marked.

Jim Crow
The January 2006 issue of neatoday, describes this web site as “The History of Jim Crow, an online exhibit sponsored by New York Life, takes the viewer on a tour of the origin of Jim Crow, and the struggles of a people to survive, resist, and overcome oppression. You’ll also find literature, eye-witness accounts, maps, image galleries and other resources that explore segregation, disenfranchisement, and violence that lay at the heart of the Jim Crow experience. Many teacher-created lesson plans are available.” The website was originally created in support of the PBS series The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.

Library of Congress
Two online exhibitions, The African American Mosaic: African American Culture and History and The African American Odyssey: a Quest for Full Citizenship, lead the searcher to primary and secondary sources for the study of black life and culture. The Library’s vast collections of papers, pamphlets, government documents, manuscripts, photographs, plays, films and recordings provide infinite research materials.

Menare Foundation
The Menare Foundation was founded by historian Anthony Cohen, who has physically retraced two Underground Railroad (UGRR) routes into Canada that were taken by slaves making their escapes from Maryland and Alabama. On one trek, Cohen recreated the ingenious Henry “Box” Brown escape. The foundation is dedicated to identifying and preserving the legacy and sites of the UGRR and operates Cooling Springs Farms, a verified safe house.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
This large, Harlem-based research division of the New York Public Library holds one of the largest collections of materials related to the history of peoples of African descent around the world. The Lest We Forget: the Triumph Over Slavery and other online exhibits are useful to educators.

Teaching Tolerance
The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to eradicating hate and intolerance through education and litigation. It offers much fine, free print, media and online materials to educators, K-12, including its magazine, Teaching Tolerance, and a free subscription to its online curricular materials. The Center responds quickly through its web site to current issues, such as the Jena 6 case, providing teaching materials that can be used with students.

University of Washington Libraries
The University of Washington Libraries provide an excellent, annotated listing of links to web sites related to African American history, grouped by subject areas – General History, Civil War and Slavery, Civil Rights, Sites Arranged Chronologically, and Biographies. This very valuable resource directs attention to many types of materials and access to archives and exhibits created by major institutions.

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For more information: 908-526-1200 x8349 or go to Give Now

Mail a donation:
The Raritan Valley Community College Foundation
P.O. Box 3300
Somerville, NJ 08876

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