Martin Luther King Honorary Degree Ceremony

Dr Martin Luther KingOn 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.

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 powerful and moving speech (PDF: 35 KB).

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.

Watch the Martin Luther King Honorary Degree Ceremony

BBC Radio

BBC Radio produced a recent programme about Dr. Martin Luther King’s honorary degree speech. They presented the film in America to broadcasters, politicians, preachers, journalists, local people and school children. Listen to their reaction to this wonderful speech.

Martin Luther King Honorary Degree Ceremony Photos

View more images of Dr Martin Luther King at Newcastle University.