A King In Newcastle…

Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream…’ speech is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable soundbites of the twentieth century, but there’s another King speech that isn’t as widely known but which has a core message which rings just as true today as it did fifty years ago when it was made. The speech was given by Dr King in 1967 when he visited Newcastle on a whirlwind 48-hour trip to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University, the only UK university to honour King in such a way during his lifetime.

Delivered off-the-cuff and in unmistakable baritone, Dr King talks movingly about the three ‘urgent and great problems’ of our time – racism, poverty and war. The Newcastle Speech was almost entirely forgotten about until historian Brian Ward unearthed the footage in the university archives. Furthermore, this was to prove his last speech outside the U.S before his assassination in April 1968. Now, fifty years after King’s momentous whistle-stop visit to Newcastle, a number of local organisations are working in partnership on Freedom City 2017 – a citywide programme of events across Newcastle to commemorate this little-known gem of North East history, as well as celebrate Dr King’s legacy.

As part of Freedom City 2017, Roots and Wings was asked to produce a teaching resource pack to help bring this legacy alive for a new generation of young people and encourage them to think about the world in which they live and how they can change it for the better. The resource pack spans a range of subjects and is suitable for Key Stages 2, 3 & 4 including lesson plans and worksheets produced by local schoolteachers and university staff.

The pack is completely free and available from the TES website where you can download the whole pack, or just pull out individual lesson plans. You can watch Dr King’s 1967 Honorary Degree ceremony at Newcastle University here, including the acceptance speech which begins at 2:22-ish.