Martin Luther King & Newcastle University

Martin Luther King Honorary Degree Ceremony



On the 13th  of November, 1967, Newcastle University gave Dr Martin Luther King an honorary  degree – the only UK university to do so during his lifetime. The day the  inspirational campaigner was made an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law remains one of  the most important moments in the University’s history and was celebrated by the University and partners in 2017 via a programme called FREEDOM CITY 2019


The occasion was made all the  more remarkable by the fact that Dr King took time to visit the University to  receive the award: he was only in the UK for 24 hours during a frenetic  schedule of commitments, campaigning – among other things – for Carl Stokes in  his successful bid to become the first black mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.

At the ceremony, which was held  in  King’s Hall, Dr King received his degree from His Grace the Duke of  Northumberland, who was at that time the University’s Chancellor.

Unusually, Dr King was then  invited to give an acceptance speech – and he held the audience spellbound as  he spoke of his struggle for racial justice. Read Dr King’s speech

<a href=”Dr King Speech“>Dr King Speech

Tragically,  barely five months later, the University found itself organising a memorial  service following Dr King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on 4 April  1968.

On the exact 50th anniversary of the visit, a two metre tall bronze statue was especially commissioned to mark the occasion, and was unveiled by Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend and colleague of Dr King’s and who accompanied him to Newcastle in 1967.


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