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Cwmbach Male Voice Choir with Paul Robeson (RCT Digital Archive)
A voice so pure – a vision so clear, I’ve gotta learn to live like you, Learn to sing like you.
- Manic Street Preachers
This political activist, the son of an American slave, was adopted by the Valleys as an honorary Welshman, in recognition of his support for striking miners.

Paul Robeson was a campaigner for civil rights and a champion of working people around the world. He was also an actor and singer and it was whilst he was performing in London's West End in 1928 that he met a group of unemployed miners from the Valleys. They had walked to London to draw attention to the hardship so many unemployed miners and their families were facing in south Wales. He joined them on the hunger marches - realising that working class struggle transcended race.

Between 1928 and 1939 he visited the Valleys many times, singing with local choirs and giving concerts. He said it  was the “first time he felt human dignity” because of the lack of racial prejudice and that Wales was where he 'first understood the struggles of white and negro together – when I went down into the coal mine in the Rhondda Valley, lived amongst them.' He stared in the film 'Proud Valley' about a black miner who moves to work in the mines of south Wales. Between 1952 and 1957 he was invited to sing at the Miners' Eisteddfod in Porthcawl but was unable to perform. His passport had been revoked by the US in 1950 because of his left wing political activities.  As a result, in 1957 he made a transatlantic radiophone broadcast from New York to Porthcawl for the Miners' Eisteddfodd. His passport was finally reinstated in 1958. Miners from South Wales had added their voice and signatures to the international petitions.

His influence continues today, providing inspiration for musicians like the Manic Street Preachers with their lyrics, 'A voice so pure – a vision so clear, I’ve gotta learn to live like you, Learn to sing like you'.

Dates
Birth: 09 April 1898
Death: 23 January 1976
Video Content
Paul sings 'Land of my Fathers'
Paul Robeson in 'Proud Valley', a 1940s film about a black miner who moves to the Valleys
'Let Robeson Sing' - Manic Street Preachers
Paul Robeson
Arts, Stage & Screen