When Peoria’s mayor offered to let singer Paul Robeson perform at City Hall, conservatives in Peoria cried foul — only a complete ban would satisfy them — and the mayor withdrew the invitation. Robeson was left without an official venue, and so gave a more impromptu performance in the home of local black trade unionist Ajay Martin.
The African-American press was much more sympathetic to the cause of Robeson than newspapers like the Chicago Tribune or New York Times.
The Chicago Defender noted that Robeson was backed by a coalition of “progressive citizens, the liberal press, and fellow artists,” and allowed Robeson to give an account of himself. According to Robeson, he was happy to be a “Red” if that term included such American patriots as Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice President.