“I am here because I know that these fellows fought not only for Spain but for me and the whole world. It is my duty to be here.”
Those were the words of Paul Robeson on the return to their homes of the South Wales veterans of the Spanish Civil War in December 1938.
Seven thousand people heard him speak. The communities felt an affinity to the people of Republican Spain in their fight against Franco.
And the names of the Valleys volunteers live on. Among them, Alun Menai Williams, of Gilfach Goch, who I knew for a short time before his death last year.
Alun had been at his friend Harry Dobson’s side when he was mortally wounded.
He never forgot that moment.
The Rhondda has not forgotten Alun, Harry or the others.
And for the next few weeks (until November 4) an exhibition called Wise and Foolish Dreamers will take pride of place at the Rhondda Heritage Park.
As Robeson noted all those years ago, it is our duty to remember them.
Meanwhile, Paul Robeson Junior comes to Wales this week to meet more than 100 pupils from Neath Port Talbot comprehensive schools at the official opening of an exhibition on racial equality.
Mr Robeson will take questions from the pupils at the opening of the
Croeso Project at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot.
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