Black and white portrait photograph of Paul Robeson

The Peekskill Riots: Episode One

Join The Field Library in welcoming documentary filmmaker, Jon Scott Bennett for the in-person premiere of The Peekskill Riots: Episode One, The Mighty Oak in the Forest.

On August 27 and September 4th, 1949, violence broke out at two concerts held outside Peekskill, NY, headlined by black singer, actor, and activist Paul Robeson. Citizens of Peekskill, galvanized by racist and anti-Semitic sentiments and disdain for Robeson’s left-wing views and campaign for civil rights, started two riots that resulted in hundreds of injuries, made national news, and unofficially marked the beginning of the McCarthy era, which would nearly erase Robeson from the public consciousness. Who was he? What did he do? What did he stand for? These questions must be answered in order to understand what brought him to Peekskill.

This first episode of a 5-part docu-series will serve not only as an introduction to the story of the concerts, but it will also introduce the headlining performer, Paul Robeson, the first and last casualty of The Peekskill Riots.

No registration necessary. Please contact Sarah Scott, local history librarian, with any questions at [email protected] or (914) 737-4390


30 Mar 2024


2:00 pm


Weekender Pick


The Field Library
4 Nelson Ave, Peekskill, NY 10566