US Civil Rights Lecture at MACS

On Tuesday 20th September 2016 students at Mountain Ash Comprehensive were treated to a lecture on the Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the 1960s from Mr Mark Levy. Some fifty years ago Mr Levy was a civil rights activist in the USA and since then has worked as a teacher, a lecturer and as a trade union official.

Mr Levy was visiting Mountain Ash as part of his working holiday in the UK. He is also speaking at schools in the North of England and in London. However Mountain Ash Comprehensive was the only school he visited in Wales.

Mr Levy spoke to a range of pupils from Year 9 plus GCSE and A level History and RS students. Added to this the school was also visited that day by a number of past pupils from last year’s Year 13. These former pupils had been told of Mr Levy’s visit and our former pupils had wanted to come to hear him speak.

After graduating from college in his early twenties, Mr Levy was sent to Meridian in Mississippi in the early 1960s. His first assignment was to register African American voters who were discriminated against at that time.  He also worked at a ‘Freedom School’. These schools were set-up in the Southern States that still had local schools segregated on racial grounds. Freedom Schools were specifically opened in the summer holidays to offer African American children the same type of education that was enjoyed by white Americans within the segregated schools system.

Mr Levy also spoke about attending the ‘March on Washington’ where Martin Luther King made his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech. The talk also covered individuals who are less well known within the Civil Rights Movement but whose contribution Mr Levy rates more highly than that of Martin Luther King.

He also discussed the life of the African American actor and singer, Paul Robeson, who was a great friend of the coalminers and their families in the South Wales area.

He spoke to a class of Year 12 A level pupils for almost two hours in the morning before giving his main lecture and this was followed by a pupil question and answer session. This also lasted for almost two hours. After such a long morning staff were delighted to share lunch with Mr Levy as a thank you for his efforts for the school on that special day.