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Paul Robeson, friend of Wales and true American hero

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:06 pm    Post subject: Paul Robeson, friend of Wales and true American hero Reply with quote

Paul Robeson first identified with the oppressed proletariat in Wales when he was in London in the late 1920s to perform in 'Showboat.' He encountered unemployed hunger marchers who had tramped from South Wales to London to draw attention to their plight.

Subsequently, he often attended eisteddfodau, and did gigs in Swansea, Neath, Porthcawl and the like. He felt obliged to take part in a benefit gig for those Welshmen who had lost their lives fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Robeson made a generous contribution to the fund for the bereaved families after the Gresford pit disaster. You can see and hear him on an internet video singing 'Land of my Fathers' - in English. He had probably succumbed to the urban myth that Welsh is too difficult for an outsider to pronounce. Most famously, he starred in the film 'Proud Valley', set in a mining community in the Rhondda.

Robeson had a standing invitation to attend the miners' eisteddfod in Porthcawl each year. But after he fell foul of the anti-Communist witch hunts in the USA, he could no longer attend in person. Robeson had, of course, been impressed by what he was allowed to see of Stalin's USSR. George Bernard Shaw fell into the same trap. They knew nothing of Uncle Joe's terror famine in the Ukraine.

Robeson really believed the USSR was a workers' paradise. He was particularly dazzled because the Soviet citizens were free of overt racial prejudice. To appreciate how much of a relief this was, we only have to remember Lady Diana Cooper's recorded reaction to him:' They had a huge and ferocious negro called Paul Robeson to sing. His voice is amazingly beautiful and soft but niggy-wigs have no accent or bone or grit and it doesn't move one.' Ouch! It's just like Roy Toy Boy Jones on Paralympians. John Tyler would say this remark was moronic, bordering on obscenity, and he'd be right. But it's still depressing and dispiriting to be on the receiving end, especially if it is a frequent occurrence.

Robeson presented a report to the UN urging them to do something to stop the lynchings of African Americans which never seem to have been prosecuted. It was titled 'We Charge Genocide.' The UN, as is their wont, ignored it. To the US government, civil rights activities smacked of Communism. It irked that whenever the USA pulled up the USSR on its misdeeds, the invariable response was 'You have the audacity to object to this ...and you are lynching Negroes!'

Robeson could not travel to Wales or any other foreign country. He sometimes addressed eisteddfodau over the airwaves. His health suffered from persecution by red baiters, and this may have hastened his death. But he never compromised his principles.

More recently, his granddaughter, Susan Robeson has represented him at eisteddfodau. She has participated in setting up an online resource about her grandfather with the assistance of Swansea University and the Welsh government. The Manic Street Preachers have released 'Let Paul Robeson Sing.'

Paul Robeson's father had been born into chattel slavery but escaped as a teenager. Robeson knew what oppression was and he identified with the oppressed wherever they were, including the wage slaves of industrial Wales. Other people like Marcus Garvey -judging from his 'prone!' remark aspire to liberation for themselves but positively support others being kept in subjection. Well, that's what human beings are usually like, weak, selfish, uncaring and pathetic. But once in a while, a true hero comes along, someone with the divine spark in him. From all the evidence, it looks as if Paul Robeson was one of these luminous beings.

Last edited by marianneh on Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:41 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Marianne,

I think that posts like this are best put into the English Language or International Forum.

Have you ever seen Daf and me joining in the singing in ' Proud Valley ' - ?

It is enough to break the heart of any music lover !



Have you figured out how to insert an image yet ? This one was found by searching ' Proud Valley ' and ' Robeson ' with Google then choosing ' images ' - you will be presented with several pages of images : click the one you like and it will be displayed large on a black background with a choice of visiting the web page on which it appears or the address from which the picture is inserted - choose the address to see it displayed, copy the address above it in the browser's bar and return to your edit box for the post which you are writing and click or write [img] then past in the address and then click or write [/img] >>> [img] is in a little black-outlined box above the right hand side of the edit box, once you click on it it will insert [img] at the end of your piece of writing and change to [/img] >>> but to insert a picture into existing text you need to write it not click.

LIKE THIS >>> [img]http://mmimageslarge.moviemail-online.co.uk/proud-valley-26889_2.jpg >>> then insert /img* in [*]

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:55 pm    Post subject: Stokely Reply with quote

It may have been Stokely Carmichael not Marcus Garvey who made the notorious 'prone' remark. Shouldn't it have been 'supine'? Apologies to Garvey. I can't think why I associated it with him.
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