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'A remarkable man': Celebrating Paul Robeson's transatlantic broadcast to Welsh miners 60 years ago

An exhibition has opened celebrating the life of the singer and activist Paul Robeson.

October 5 2017 marks 60 years since his historic broadcast across the Atlantic to Welsh miners in Porthcawl, south Wales.

The packed audience at Porthcawl's Grand Pavilion

The US Government confiscated Robeson's passport during the political witchhunts of the 1950s, leaving him unable to accept an invitation to perform at the Miners' Eisteddfod.

The former MP and historian Hywel Francis attended the event each year with his family.

Paul Robeson was a remarkable man. I was brought up to believe that the great heroes of our time were people like Cliff Morgan the rugby player, John Charles the soccer player and people like Paul Robeson.

Despite his great power and fame, he was still prepared to articulate the great causes of humanity - racial equality, workers rights, and the struggle against fascism.

– Prof Hywel Francis
Paul Robeson was politically active throughout his career, championing the rights of workers and civil rights worldwide

The broadcast was made possible by the installation of the first transatlantic telephone cable in 1956.

Telecoms engineer Harry Linck helped install equipment at the venue to allow Robeson's performance to be heard in the best possible quality.

There were high quality circuits between London and Bridgend, but not between Bridgend and Porthcawl! It was necessary to fit equipment in Porthcawl to ensure the sound quality was as it should be.

The quality was ordinary sound, radio quality, very satisfying but not perfect!

– Harry Linck
Robeson on stage at the 1958 National Eisteddfod

Following an international campaign, Robeson's passport was returned to him the following year, allowing him to attend the 1958 National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.

  • The Robeson Remembered exhibition will be open at Porthcawl's Grand Pavilion until Sunday October 8.

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Watch our special report on the anniversary, and hear from the people who were there: