Five decades after he first flew to Newcastle with Martin Luther King Jr., Ambassador Andrew Young returned to the U.K. city in November to unveil a bronze statue of the late civil rights icon.
The statue, which stands six feet tall and depicts Dr. King in an academic gown, marked 50 years since Newcastle University became the first British institution to confer on him an honorary doctorate.
In accepting the degree, Dr. King gave a bold speech renouncing what he saw were three main scourges facing mankind: war, poverty and racism.
The statue’s unveiling was part of Freedom City 2017, a series of lectures, art installations and performances honoring Dr. King’s time in Newcastle and the exploring the themes presented in his remarks.
Mr. Young, the former Georgia congressman, Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has his own bronze statue in downtown Atlanta honoring his legacy of civil rights advocacy and public service. Mr. Young, an ally of Dr. King, was with him in Memphis, Tenn., when he was assassinated in 1968. The speech at Newcastle was Dr. King’s last outside the U.S. before he was killed.
Mr. Young said in a statement that Dr. King was always committed to much more than improving race relations; he wanted to “redeem the soul of America” from the “triple evils” he highlighted in Newcastle.
“Civil society must find a way to fulfill Martin Luther King’s words and live together as brothers and sisters, lest we perish together as fools,” Mr. Young said. “The statue will be a way for his voice and his speech to continue to warm the hearts of the students that study here and visitors that pass through.”
The statue is placed outside King’s Hall at the end of a new processional route for new graduates, according to the Freedom City 2017 website.
Newcastle is also celebrating its 40th anniversary as an Atlanta sister city in 2017.
Watch Dr. King’s speech in Newcastle below. A physical copy of the film was presented to the King Center in Atlanta by the Newcastle City Council a few years ago: