As part of Tower Hamlets Black History Month, JtoJ was invited to run an event
JOURNEY TO JUSTICE, INSPIRING ACTION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE THROUGH HISTORY AND THE ARTS: MLK’S 1967 VISIT TO NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE
On October 24th 2017 at Idea Store, Whitechapel
In 1967 Martin Luther King came to Tyneside to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University for his civil rights campaigning. We screened the powerful BBC film, ‘A King’s Speech: Martin Luther King on Tyneside’ in which Lenny Henry tells the story of this unique visit and its impact on both the man and the people he met. Our volunteers Arianna Assanelli, Jack Madden and Mahzabin Ahmed made links between MLK’s speech on war, racism and poverty then and some of our projects which focus on the same issues today.
ADZ, an underground hip-hop artist and partner of JtoJ performed two raps to illustrate his life story, feelings and views on war and poverty.
Girlz United, a Tower Hamlets community group and JtoJ partner have been working with their peers to learn about each other’s cultures and traditions. Nadia and Summer performed poems written in response to learning about local struggles in the face of racial discrimination and poverty.
Jane Wheeler, Director of Living Song, JtoJ’s partner in Newham talked about her work, harnessing the power of singing with young people and community groups: http://www.livingsong.org
The room was packed and the audience diverse in every way including a group of Community Action students and staff from Birkbeck, University of London. It was a most positive and powerful night:
“It was an evening of powerful connections between King’s speech fifty years ago and what we face today; of performers raising profound questions through poetry, spoken word and song; of new friends who’d known nothing of JtoJ nor what to expect declaring how inspired they’d been. The enormous challenge of so many injustices is daunting but we learn from the lives of others and the creative expression in all of us. Such a collective effort – eleven of us performing and presenting in so many different ways. Questions, connections, inspiration, community … the essence of JtoJ.”
“It was a very inspiring and affirmative evening. What was so impressive was that the young people, both volunteers and performers, were really confident and seemed to claim ownership of the event in a way that I could never have done at their age.”
“I loved that MLK was speaking as a human being, not only as a Black person – he was for all humanity.”
“We can take his ideas and move forward.”
“I really enjoyed the young girls’ poetry and the rap. It was lovely seeing the music film of the choir – there was such a variety of people there, different ages, ethnicities, it was lovely to see the whole community.”
Thanks to everyone involved and to the Freedom City 2017 team in Newcastle for their support: