US Ambassador visits Martin Luther King statue in Newcastle

Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson, the American Ambassador to the UK, paid a special visit to the Martin Luther King statue at Newcastle University earlier this month.

The trip, arranged to coincide with Martin Luther King Day in the US, was Ambassador Johnson’s first official visit to an English city outside London since taking office in 2017.

The statue was unveiled last year to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s visit to Newcastle University to accept an honorary degree.

During his visit, the Ambassador was shown the film of the speech Dr King made when he accepted the honour in 1967 and saw the King’s Hall, the location for the degree ceremony.

He also heard about Freedom City 2017 and some of the activities that took place as part of the city-wide programme – including Freedom on the Tyne.

Speaking to The Journal, the Ambassador said: “The statue, the room where he spoke and the film – it was poignant. He was talking about poverty and war and racism and progress has been made but more progress is needed.”

The Ambassador also met Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President, Newcastle University, and a number of senior academics.

Professor Day said: “It is fitting that Ambassador Johnson has chosen to visit the statue of Dr King on the day that the US remembers him and the values he stood for.”

 The Ambassador’s visit was hosted by Newcastle NE1, the city’s Business Improvement District. After visiting the statue, Ambassador Johnson met with prominent local businesses with trade links with the United States and discussed opportunities to strengthen connections between the US and Newcastle.