He wasn't even supposed to speak; his office in Atlanta had made that very clear. Yet there he was, in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne: Martin Luther King, Jr., the foremost figure in the US civil rights movement, making an impromptu speech in which he linked the African American freedom struggle to developments in British race relations and issued a call for all people of goodwill to meet the global challenges of war, poverty and racism. The date was November 13, 1967. The occasion was the award to King of an Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. This book tells the inside story of King's visit. It explains why he was invited, describes the events of the day itself, and investigates why King flew across the Atlantic to spend less than eleven hours in a city that he knew little about in the midst of his brutal work schedule and at a time of enormous professional strain and personal doubt. It also reveals how film of King's 'lost speech' was rediscovered, puts his spellbinding words into the context of 1960s British and US race relations, and argues for their continued importance half a century later. Finally, the book places King's visit within another lost history: the history of links between the African American freedom struggle and the North East. It not only shows how King was one of many distinguished African American visitors to the region, including Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass before him and Muhammad Ali and Harry Belafonte afterwards, but also explains how those connections influenced the development of race relations in the region. Exhaustively researched, engagingly written and, by turns, moving, sobering and inspiring, Martin Luther King in Newcastle brings alive the historic significance and contemporary relevance of this fascinating episode in North East, British and US history.
Hardback, 308 pages, colour heritage photographs