Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

!00,000 hits!

Recently, this blog reached the milestone of 100,000 hits since its inception. This is rather impressive for a small history society such as ourselves and represents an average of 10,000 visits per annum. Obviously, we have our share of junk in the responses and as has been stated on an earlier posting we have had a great increase in Resolven history from countries which presumably can be put down to spy surveillance. However, the blog itself represents a permanent archive of our activities and a source for the study of both local and general history.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Martin Luther King Junior

The Society brought its season of lecture meetings to an end with a talk by Mr Phil Davies of Neath.  Mr Davies is better known as a pop historian making many appearances on BBC Radio wales, and he explained that it was this interest which had taken him to the southern US and its various musical genres that had led him to an interest in Martin Luther King Jr. He had visited the ghetto hotel ( now the National Civil Rights Museum) where Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated in 1968 in the 1980s, and was left with a lasting impression of the fight for civil rights in the USA which had frankly outlasted the apartheid struggles of South Africa into the present day.

He reminisced that the year 1963 was significant to him because his parents had purchased a television for the first time and one of the striking images of that year was the assassination of JFK and also the bombing of four innocent black children On 16 September 1963, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school in Alabama. On 16 September 1963, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school. This was later commemorated by the famous Black Christ stained glass window by Welsh artist John Petts of Llansteffan.

John Petts's Black Christ
Mr Davies described Martin Luther King Jr as a principled, charismatic and fascinatinating man who achieved an immense amount in his short life of only thirty nine years. The son of a Lutheran clergyman, also Martin Luther King, born in Georgia in 1929  King became poliitically active in the 1950s when the Ku Klux Klan was extrememly active with 8 million members. Rapes, murders, tarring and feathering and other atrocities were common and condoned in the southern states. Civil rights had hardly been won after the Civil War, but were given up grudgingly so aptly portrayed by the fim “Selma”, starring Oprah Winfrey and Tim Roth. The bus strike surrounding Rosa Parkes was also emblematic of the inequality.

The Million Man March
In August 1963. King led the “Million Man March”, to protest about the lack of civil rights on Washington DC where he delivered his famous “ I have a dream speech”, and sent a shiver down the spine of the WASP establishment.  Mr Davies made the point that King was driven by his Christian faith, which meant that he was difficult to attack on a political level. He was alsa a moderate in that he wanted peaceful change as against that of the Black Panther movement of the muslim Malcolm X which advocated violence. In 1964, King was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as his profile resonated around the world.

Political influence was also a factor in curbing the Civil Rights Movement. Mr Davies, made the point that the death of Kennedy had ironically brought a reformer to the White House in Lyndon Johnson who introduced Civil Rights Legislation against the background of the racist moves of four times presidential candidate George Mc Govern and the use of the National Guard to enforce desegregation in schools. Behind the scenes the FBI headed by J Edgar Hoover, slowed progress to a glacial pace by surreptitiously blackmailing successive liberal politicians with discretions in their private lives ( including King himself). The fall of Johnson led to the Nixon Years and the continuation of the fruitless Vietnam War.

King himself had become something of a cellebrity and was sometimes subject to criticism form the  black lobby himself. Ironically, it was this criticism which led to him to switching hotels in Memphis from a black owned high class hotel to the “flop”, Lorraine hotel in Memphis in June 8th 1968. James Earl Ray, a petty criminal and a fugitive from the state penitentiary, was convinced that there was a $50,000 bounty on the head of King and subsequently assassinated  him  . James Earl ray died at the age of 70 in 1998 having been sentenced to 99 years in prison for the killing of King. His guilt however, is a subject of intrigue and doubt.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Davies for a very insightful and passionate talk

The History Society will now take a break until the AGM in September. Anyone wishing to come on the Summer trip on Thursrday, July 8th to Brecon Cathedral and Canal ( £10 members; £15 non members ) please get in touch with Mr David Woosnam.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Whitsun March

The religious Whitsun has now been subsumed by an official Spring Bank Holiday. Resolven however still maintains a traditional Sunday school march at Whitsun to this day, though severely diminished in numbers from the days of old when 18 women were needed in order to cut the bread and cheese in Jerusalem Chapel alone, during the war, for the tea party which followed the march and service. Caryl Rees has given our blog some images of the banner used by Jerusalem Chapel and the march will once again take place next Sunday, 15th May.

The banner which was paraded by Jerusalem Chapel
                                                         The Whitsun March of yesteryear.