Rights in Conflict

As citizens of the United States of America, we are guaranteed certain rights by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When we practice these rights, such as the freedom of speech, we are protected under these documents. There are times, however, when individual rights may be limited or denied by the actions of the government, other people, or by circumstance. Examine the three documents on this page to investigate how Robeson's life engaged problems of rights in conflict.

Document #1

"Book Bans of Paul Robeson." New York Times. 12 March 1948. Rutgers Special Collection and University Archives.

Document #2

Photograph published by Der Deutsche Friedensrat. Aug 201/20/61. Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives.

Caption: Robeson supporters marching in Germany.

Document #3

Photograph from Morning World Herald, Omaha. 5 September 1949. Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives.

Caption: "Enters Motion Against Robeson" The denim trouser-clad girl in the foreground puts the finger on her feelings about the Paul Robeson concert near Peekskill, N.Y., Sunday as a state trooper holds in check a group of men and women taking part in a demonstration against the singer. Veterans and their supporters paraded past the concert grounds as nearly 1,500 peace officers tried to keep them from clashing with the audience.


Answer the following questions for each of the three documents below.

Primary Source Document Analysis
  1. Briefly describe the document (who, what, where, why, etc).
  2. List the rights that you observe being practiced.
  3. List any rights that you can conclude are being denied.
  4. Which right do you feel is more important? Does one have priority over the other? Defend your opinion thoroughly.
  5. Has there ever been a time when one of your rights (or rights of someone you know) was denied because of a particular circumstance? Did you feel this was fair? Explain.