Against All Odds – Remembering Paul Robeson

Posted in Education, Events, Past Events

Presentation with Denyse Leslie

Sunday, July 10, 2016, 3 pm

The presentation is free to the public.  Donations gratefully accepted.

Robeson Bust

Denyse Leslie’s talk will cover the life and importance of Paul Robeson and will include information on the major pieces collected for the History Exhibition.

Born in Princeton in 1898, Paul Robeson led an extraordinary life by any account.  Given that he was an African American who faced bigotry and discrimination at every turn, against all odds, he graduated near the top of his class from Rutgers College in 1919, acquired a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1923, became an internationally acclaimed singer and actor performing in O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones, in Showboat and as Othello in Shakespeare’s play.  He became politically involved in response to the Spanish Civil War, fascism, and social injustices. He was an avid supporter of trade unions.  His advocacy of anti-imperialism, affiliation with communism, and criticism of the United States government caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Denyse Evelyn Leslie – Presenter

Denyse has a 30- year business career starting in general management consulting with Towers Perrin in NY. She spent 18 years in business development leadership roles at Educational Testing Service, of Princeton, NJ, where she launched ETS’s K12 business. She currently serves as development assistant for The Petey Greene Program — a nonprofit that recruits and trains college students who tutor incarcerated students seeking completion of their GED and ultimately successful re-entry.

Denyse continues to consult in business development and diversity management and most recently co-chaired fundraising and was a senior executive producer for Black Foxes, a new web series seeking to evolve the image of Black women in media.

Denyse is a ruling elder of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church and serves as its Clerk of Session. She co-chairs Witherspoon’s history project charged to publish a long-sought history of the church. She is a member of the Paul Robeson House of Princeton Management Advisory Committee and is active in its fundraising.

As a member of Witherspoon Church’s 2014-15 Session, Denyse continued an important appeal to the Presbytery of New Brunswick and the Synod of the Northeast seeking Reconciliation and an apology for the unjust termination of beloved pastor William Drew Robeson, Paul Robeson’s father. The Presbytery agreed and issued a Resolution of Apology September 2015. The Synod of the Northeast agreed and made a Gift of $170,000 November 2015 announced at the occasion of Witherspoon’s 175th Anniversary Event. The generous gift settled the mortgage at Paul Robeson House of Princeton, the birthplace of Paul Robeson.

Her other non-profit volunteer work includes serving on Princeton Community Works’ Planning Committee, and leading Princeton Public Library’s Black Voices Book Group.

Denyse grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She was graduated cum laude with highest honors for thesis work from Middlebury College. She is a charter class member of Yale University’s School of Management where she earned her MBA. She has one son, Christopher Jonathan Leslie, and a granddaughter, Auriana Michelle Leslie who live in Beaverton, OR. Her parents, Conrad and Melanie Evelyn, live in Bucks County.

Against All Odds

Art & History Exhibits, Film, Music, Education, Presentations and more

inspired by Paul Robeson’s life-long battles for racial justice, economic justice and peace

Sponsored by the Trenton Museum Society

In conjunction with the Paul Robeson House of Princeton

and the African American Cultural Collaboration of Mercer County