The Kings Speech and he didn’t stammer once.
As a Blog-phobic Cultural Champion I can’t say it occurred to me to document my attendance Wednesday night at St. Georges Hall for the Slavery Remembrance Memorial lecture by Martin Luther King III so In true slacker style I turned up paper and pen-less but with a willingness for historical insight and education on a serious subject that before now I felt I had no deserved entitlement to.
This may or may not be relevant to point out but on entering the Hall I helped myself to a complimentary cup of coffee which in all my complimentary coffee tasting experiences was the best I’ve ever had . Akin to the first one of the day that hits the spot. Biscuits as well. I only mention this because the lecture was scheduled from 6pm until 9pm and I was concerned about my “If I sit down longer than an hour anywhere I usually get droopy eye” lethargic disposition. It wasn’t a question of interest or expectation but of my metabolism which had denied me my dignity on so many occasions.
Soon after I took my seat the organisers from National Museums Liverpool welcomed the audience and informed us all that there would be some entertainment lined up before the Lecture.I could only think “So I’m getting coffee, biscuits and a bit of a gig. And it’s in Georgies Hall .Why were’nt any of my college lectures like this because I’d have definitely gone to more of them.”
First to entertain the audience was Liverpool poet and wordsmith Levi Tafari. I apologise for now for not remembering the title of the poem he recited. A poem about the slave trade which was both punchy and fresh and delivered with fluid ease but also earnest and quite moving .It was at this point I realised I could hopefully thumb a few notes on my mobile phone.
The next act of the night was the singer Esco Williams. Accompanied by guitarist James Williams they Kicked of with his own song “Brown Skin.” then the Sam Cooke classic “A change is gonna come” followed by Stevie Wonders ” Loves in need of love today.” this was already one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite singers and Esco made it his own.He finished with his self penned “New Challenger.” I could describe the reasons why I think he was worthy of his MOBO award but I’d rather let you hear for yourself.
The evening continued with the dance group POSITIVE IMPACT . A talented and energetic young group from Liverpool 8 who had the audience on their feet to witness well choreographed routines against a soundtrack of very clever remixing. This exhilarating turn was finally followed by singer songwriter Ogo Nzeakor. Another talented Local artiste with a soul/ folk slant to his style. There was an essence of Seal meets Joan Armatrading to his performance and we were all in awe.His version of Tracy Chapmans ” talking bout a revolution” being a notable high point. This drew the Live performance element of the evening to a close
Dr David Fleming OBE and Director of the National Museums Liverpool then gave a short speech talking about the International Slavery Museum which is based at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the it’s role in informing and educating the people of this city and those who visit and also the positive results of using museums as a way of changing peoples preconceptions and providing them with the tools for a more insightful perspective. He then introduced the Man who needed no introduction. Martin Luther King III.
I will in no way be able to quote him verbatim as my thumb to mobile phone shorthand is that of a 43 year old father of two who still cannot bring himself to write U instead of you even when replying to a “Ay Dad how R U?.” so any of the highly quotable anecdotes escaped my phone and my recall is a generalised take on the lecture as a whole as I appreciated it.
Accompanied by his wife Coretta Scott King he spoke humourously about his invitation to come to Liverpool. His respect for our cities wealth of Culture, of our TWO great Football teams ( referring to them as football teams initially and not soccer as most Americans would. Kudos for that ) and his admiration for our city for hosting a Museum of Slavery. He spoke about his young daughter Yolanda Renee King and what it meant to be a parent and a husband and the importance of family to him. He spoke about his approach to dealing with the nature of how he lost loved ones notably his father Martin Luther King jnr and his own grandmother, who herself was also murdered. He talked about his commitment to non violence and his views on political progress through these means. He talked about how far the civil rights movement had come but also how much more could be done in order for us on a global scale never to repeat the atrocities of the past. He cited recent legislation which makes it harder for certain U.S. citizens to vote in the forthcoming elections in America as an example of the continuing struggle for humanitarian and political equal rights. My abiding memory though, is of him urging the audience to aim to be the best at what they do. If it is a street sweeper then be the best street sweeper they could possibly be.
Martin Luther King III had now delivered his Lecture both eloquently and amiably in manner and as one of the few hundred who were there to witness it I left St. Georges Hall feeling that this was more a conversation between me and the man himself rather than a public address . Any information given felt exclusively mine. As a Cultural Champion I now aimed to be the best Cultural Champion I could possibly be so here Iam making my start by attempting to conquer my phobia of blogging.
for information on the International Museum of Slavery ; http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/