Dr Who..? 2017
(The one in the clip at the bottom, the one that sets the audience homework...)
In 2017 Newcastle celebrated ‘Freedom City,’ a commemoration of the 50 year anniversary of the Doctorate in Civil Law that Newcastle University awarded to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At the time, back in 1967 this decision from the Uni was a both radical & visionary move.
In the USA, this ringing endorsement from a major UK educational institution, was major news. It greatly increased Martin’s credibility, elevating his status, getting him access to more & better interviews & rocketing his international profile.
The award of Martin’s doctorate, pressured the status quo in the USA, adding critical momentum to the Civil Rights Movement.
Back then, America had been up to all sorts of shady social & political shenanigans, to oppress the Movement & maintain generations of brutal white supremacy.
Not just another invoice to pay..?
One day we popped in the Club, to pick the mail up & we got this letter…
Once a jaw was picked up off the floor, it began to sink in - but it still didn’t seem real.
We were to stand - in the exact same room, where we’d cheered on the great, Black activist Harry Belafonte a few years earlier, when he too was honoured by Newcastle Uni.
We were going to speak - in the same place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had addressed the congregation half a century earlier.
Errr… No pressure then..?
Utterly & completely mindblowing...
That'll be the day
As it all drew nearer, the whole ‘address the congregation' bit really sank in…
Public speaking isn’t a strong suite of ours, we tend to stammer, gibber & shake, so it was flippin’ nerve racking.
Finally the day rolled around, so we suited up, nabbed the tribe & jumped in the fly car they sent to pick us all up. Everyone at the University was so nice to all our gang & that really helped settle considerable nerves.
Just as well, as we weren’t the only recipients that day – we were in proper, heavy-hitting company…
So, reckon he’ll mess it up..?
Bar a couple of obvious wobbles, (including one howling 'expire/aspire' moment...) somehow, luckily & thankfully, it all went off & we played it, just like a set of tunes & finished really strong.
Name-checked fly artists, spoke from the heart, somehow managed to fit in the word ‘thong..?!!’
Extoled the virtues of 'dreaming' & made it crystal clear that we were there, representing our entire crew & all our many supporters over the years.
All in all, a surreal, once in a lifetime day. One we are immensely grateful for & shall never, ever forget.
One that made a great many people who share in our values, smile & feel proud to be down with WHQ.
It also 100% reinforced our lifetime belief, that if you try to do good things – good things might just happen to you…