Prominent Civil Rights Activists to Speak at Martin Luther Who? Conference

Notable Civil Rights activists will be in attendance at Newcastle University Students’ Union’s (NUSU) Civil Rights Conference, ‘Martin Luther Who?’, on Saturday 18th February, which will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Dr King’s honorary degree from the University.

The conference, which has been organised by NUSU, the International Development Society (IDS) and Freedom City 2017, will welcome speakers such as Muzoon al-Mellehan, Dr Kehinde Andrews, leader in the development of the Black Studies Degree at Birmingham City University, and Professor David Bailin, lecturer in Theoretical Physics at the University of Sussex. The conference will also host talks from Chi Onwurah MP and Newcastle University lecturers Dr Megan Armstrong and Dr Silvia Pasquetti.

Jack Taylor, President at NUSU, said: “We are extremely excited to welcome such a wide variety of guest speakers to the ‘Martin Luther Who?’ Conference this Saturday.

“Civil Rights is an area in which many feel very passionate about, regardless of background, and it’s something we wish to support especially in this the 50th Anniversary year of Martin Luther King’s honorary degree from Newcastle.”

Talks and workshops on the day will vary from historic instances of Civil Rights movements, to present day struggles that many are facing throughout the political climate.

Liberty Blythe, President of the International Development Society, said: “At IDS we were very excited to have an opportunity to get involved with Freedom City. We have our International Development Conference (IDC) every year and try to explore interesting and contemporary themes and this was something we didn’t want to miss.”

“It’s so important to give students a chance to explore important issues outside of their degree whilst at University.”

On 13th November 1967, Newcastle University awarded Dr Martin Luther King an honorary degree, the only UK University to do so in his lifetime. On accepting this award, Dr King made what was to be his final public speech outside of the US before his assassination in April 1968.

In order to commemorate this, there will be a yearlong celebration devised by Newcastle University, Northern Roots and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative known as Freedom City 2017. The ‘Martin Luther Who?’ conference is designed to create a forum to address contemporary issues regarding civil rights and take a grassroots look at the issues raised in Dr King’s speech in the King’s Hall 50 years ago.

Jack continued: “It’s fantastic that we have been able to support the conference and give a platform to such an important topic of discussion. Our aim is to allow not only our students, but the wider public, access to prominent speakers and help them explore the importance of Civil Rights not only in the past, but in the present day and what it will mean for the future.”

‘Martin Luther Who?’ is a free conference and open to all. It will be taking place at King’s Hall at Newcastle University on Saturday 18th February between 9.30am and 5.30pm. Places can be reserved at

Image: Credit Chris Bishop / Newcastle University Students Union