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Year-long commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. starts

A year-long programme to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr King receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University gets underway today, Martin Luther King Day in the US.

Freedom City 2017 will see large-scale outdoor events, exhibitions, public art, musical performances and an education and academic programme paying tribute to Dr King’s passionate and moving acceptance speech delivered at Newcastle University on 13 November 1967.

This address was to be Dr King’s final speech outside America before his assassination in 1968 and Freedom City 2017 explores the themes of what he called the three ‘urgent and great problems’ of war, poverty and racism - which remain as relevant today as they were in 1967.

A special city-wide cultural programme across Newcastle and Gateshead will see Freedom City 2017 events throughout the year at venues including BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Northern Stage, Live Theatre and Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books.

In addition to the cultural events and performances, an education and academic programme delivered by Newcastle University will explore the themes of Dr King’s speech and bring his legacy to life for a new generation.

Professor Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Internationalisation, Newcastle University, said: “Awarding an Honorary Degree was the highest honour that the University could bestow and came at a time when Dr King was an increasingly controversial figure. Indeed, Newcastle University was the only UK university to honour Dr King in this way during his lifetime and it remains one of the most important moments in our history.

“The 50th anniversary of his visit provides an opportunity for each of us to reflect on how we can contribute towards tackling the challenges of war, poverty and racism Dr King spoke of, and will enable a new generation to engage with his legacy.”

Inspiring a new generation

To mark the start of the year-long programme of Freedom City 2017 events, today - Martin Luther King Day in the US - Professor Sugata Mitra will pose a ‘Big Question’ to schoolchildren around the world as part of the global SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environment) project. To engage the children in Freedom City 2017, Freedom Voices Pioneer Schools in the UK, US and India will be able to record their responses using the new Freedom Voices app.

Continuing the Freedom City 2017 programme is Café Culture – a series of café-style public discussions exploring the themes of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech. Events include ‘Rights and Wrongs: England’s problems with human rights’ and ‘Has the Tide Turned?’ a discussion around economic inequality in the UK and worldwide.

Also taking place in February is the first of Newcastle University’s three Freedom City 2017 INSIGHTS Public Lectures exploring war, poverty, and racism. This first talk will be delivered by Baptist minister Rev. Jeffrey Brown, on 21 February.

A special Freedom City 2017 Teachers’ Pack, which has been developed by academics at both Newcastle University and Northumbria University, will be available later in the year for primary and secondary schools across the country. Structured around the three themes of war, poverty and racism, the pack includes cross-curriculum lesson plans, music scores and other resources around history, ethics, RE, music and geography.

For the full article please visit the Newcastle University Website.

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