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The Paul Robeson Award

Paul Robeson Award Goes to Bill Cosby

Pictured (L-R)
Business Rep Willie Boston, committee members Mary Louise, Joan Valentina, EEO Co-Chair Julia Breanetta Simpton, Engel Conrow and Jean Lee

The 2006 Paul Robeson Award has gone to Dr. William "Bill" Cosby, Jr. It was presented at the Eastern Regional membership meeting on October 6 by Julia Breanetta Simpson, co-chair, with Christine Toy Johnson, of the Eastern Regions' Equal Employment Opportunity Committee.

Ms. Simpson called Mr. Cosby "one of the most popular and admired entertainers in the world" and she enumerated some of his achievements as a stand-up comedian; an actor in film, television and recordings; as a television producer, author, lecturer and activist. Among Mr. Cosby's live theatrical credits, she noted appropriately, was a 1988 appearance on Broadway in A CELEBRATION OF PAUL ROBESON.

Other career highlights she cited included the 1960s TV series, I Spy, which broke racial barriers and featured Mr. Cosby as the first black star of a dramatic series; the educational cartoon series, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, as well as the Bill Cosby Show. In the 1980s and early '90s, Bill Cosby produced and starred in The Cosby Show, which was unprecedented in its non-stereotypical portrayal of an intelligent, affluent African-American family. The late Coretta Scott King described this show as "The most positive portrayal of a black family life ever broadcast."

Bill and Camille Cosby, his wife, are involved with many philanthropic endeavors for various social and educational causes. Chief among them are the millions given to endow a number of historically black colleges and universities, which in turn will enrich the lives of countless young people seeking an education. And they have also given millions more in support of artists around the world. "They both challenge us all to be better citizens," Ms. Simpson said.

Equity's Paul Robeson Citation Award Committee selected Mr. Cosby as the recipient "because he exemplifies, and advocates for, the precepts on which this award are based: concern for and service to fellow humans, respect for the dignity of the individual, freedom of expression, and universal brotherhood and the artist's responsibility to the profession and to the greater society."


Award pages:

Arizona Theatre Service

On June 1, 1971, the Council of Actors' Equity Association established what is now known as the Paul Robeson Committee, and designated Frederick O'Neal as Chair. The Committee resolved to present annual citations to the individual or organization that, during the preceding year or years, best exemplified and practiced the principles and ideals of this great humanitarian, Paul Robeson. For a complete list of recipients click here.

Paul Robeson as Othello

Recipients of the Paul Robeson Award are:

Year Recipient
1974 Paul Robeson
1975 Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee
1976 Lillian Hellman
1977 Pete Seeger
1978 Sam Jaffe
1979 Harry Belafonte
1980 Alice Childress
1981 Studs Terkel
1982 Ed Asner
1983 John Henry Faulk
1984 Lena Horne
1985 Arthur Mitchell
1986 Vinie Burrows
1987 Joe Papp
1988 Jacques D'Amboise
1989 Bill Ross & Dr. Margaret Burroughs
1990 Maya Angelou
1991 Gordon Parks
1992 Art D'Lugoff
1993 Katherine Dunham
1994 Lloyd Richards
1995 Gil Noble
1996 George C. Wolfe
1997 Athol Fugard
1998 Leonard Etienne de Paul
1999 Loften Mitchell
2000 Rosetta LeNoire
2001 Brock Peters
2002 Gertrude Jeanette
2003 Woodie King, Jr.
2004 Judith Jamison
2005 Carl Harms
2006 Bill Cosby
2007 Mercedes Ellington
2008 Sidney Poitier
2009 Micki Grant
2010 Charles Randolph-Wright
2011 James Earl Jones
2012 William Greaves
2013 Shauneille Perry
2014 Baayork Lee
2015 Arthur French
2016 ASTEP
2017 Jamal Joseph

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