Tagged: Trade Union Rights

Major civil rights exhibition launches a national tour in Newcastle

 

Dr Martin Luther King pictured with a group of students at Newcastle University in 1967
Dr Martin Luther King pictured with a group of students at Newcastle University in 1967

The visit by Martin Luther King to Newcastle in 1967 will link America’s fight for civil rights and battles waged on our own doorstep in a major exhibition making its national debut in the North next month.

Former US civil rights worker Marcia Heinemann Saunders will be over to cut the ribbon at the launch of Journey to Justice  on April 4 – the anniversary of King’s assassination – at Discovery Museum where it will run for a month ahead of a national tour.

And it’s set to get everyone talking with its fascinating mix of archive film, photographs, music, poetry, oral histories and high-profile speakers including former ANC freedom fighter Archie Sibeko, now settled in the region.

It’s the culmination of nearly three years’ hard work and fund-raising by former teacher Carrie Supple whose initial idea, inspired by a trip to the US, spiralled to include a huge range of local organisations and supporters as well as volunteers.

The London-based 56-year-old, whose mother was from Newcastle and who herself taught history in the region for 10 years, is delighted how it’s taken off.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said.

“I went to America in 2012 and visited the civil rights museums. I thought it would be great telling the story in the UK when I came back.”

Newcastle was a natural choice for it, with her own links, the visit from King when the civil rights leader received an honorary degree from Newcastle University, our own historic struggles and the scale of support she found here which includes some university funding.

Running until May 4, the focus of the exhibition will be on stories rarely heard.

Those of the American civil rights movement in the sixties include Marcia’s support in helping African Americans in Tennessee to register their vote; six-year-old Ruby Bridges who had to be escorted to school under armed guard because of the fury caused by allowing her entry to an all-white school, and the Greensboro sit-in where students were refused service at a “whites only” counter in a Woolworth store in North Carolina. The exhibition will recreate the counter where visitors can sit and learn about the story.

And the backdrop to it all will be the stirring church music of the civil rights era.

“Many said the music gave them the strength and the hope to get them through,” said Carrie.

Tyneside’s social justice story will feature The Jarrow March and fights for better health care, housing, mining conditions, pay and trade union rights, and local young people have played a part by recording memories of the older generation.

“There are people who recall being in the room with Martin Luther King in 1967,” said Carrie.

Source – Sunday Sun, 15 Mar 2015

North East Labour MPs call for lurch to left and 83% of party grassroots back them

The vast majority of Labour supporters back a set of left-wing policies proposed by three North MPs, a poll shows.

Ian Lavery, Ian Mearns and Grahame Morris, MPs for Wansbeck, Gateshead and Easington, signed a letter calling for a number of changes to their party’s policies, and a poll by Labour List shows 83% of supporters back them.

The statement called for the re-nationalisation of the railways, ahead of the East Coast Main Line returning to private hands, and an end to austerity measures.

It comes as Labour figures make the finishing touches to the election manifesto, eyeing both a surge by the Greens and the threat of Ukip.

The poll shows that Labour’s grassroots are for the party lurching to the left. Ed Miliband is unlikely to sanction such a move, however, in the wake of recent criticism from business leaders, including that of Boots boss Stefano Pessina, who said the party winning power would be a “catastrophe” for the country.

> So he should do it just to piss Pessina off ! Him and his ilk aren’t likely to be Labour supporters anyway, so where’s the problem ? Are you really for the people Ed, or for big business interests ?

No, don’t bother answering that. I think we already know the answer.

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said the MPs’ proposal is “hardly revolutionary” and called for the party to be “a little bit bolder”.

He said:

“Currently the party policy makers are drawing up the long-awaited manifestos.

“It’s a critical period when politicians should ensure the voice of their constituents should be heard. Rail Nationalisation, Trade Union Rights and collective bargaining in the workplace and a change in focus on austerity are issues the general public are hankering for, and why not.

“These simple policies are hardly revolutionary and would impact greatly on those who have faced the brunt of the relentless attacks of the coalition Government.

“Report after report show it’s the less well off who are shouldering biggest burden in today’s society we must endeavour to change this unacceptable situation.

“Politics is about decisions it’s about choice, despite the excellent policies on offer from the Labour Party we need to move a little further and influence the decision makers these issues are exceptionally appealing to our natural voters.

“Being that little bit bolder under the excellent leadership of Ed Miliband would undoubtedly pay dividends for the party, and the constituents we represent.”

> Ed Milliband an excellent leader ? Sections of the media, of course, try to portray him as something of a weirdo. Speaking as someone who has spent much of his life in the company of weirdos and who, truth to tell, is probably a weirdo too, my complaint is that Ed is not weird enough !

He just comes over as another identikit career politician, to be honest. He could be leading the Conservatives and not look out of place.

Most damning of all, he comes across as Blair Junior, which is a bit like being Satan Junior to many of those people who used to vote Labour before it became New.

Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, added:

“Most people, including the former head of the Bank of England, know that it wasn’t the last Labour Government that crashed the economy, it was an international financial and banking crisis – yet it seems that the people who crashed the economy, the bankers, are the individuals who are personally profiting from the situation while urging cuts, pain and austerity for the vast majority of the population.

“Austerity and the pain that goes with it, is not necessary – it is a set of political and economic policy choices. There are alternatives and we should explore those alternatives for the benefit of the many rather than the few.”

All of the main parties have yet to publish their manifestos.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 04 Feb 2015