28 August 2013

Liverpool marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King speech

By Tom Dootson

An iconic Liverpool landmark opened its doors to the public to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Albert Dock's Martin Luther King Jr building (formerly the Dock Traffic Office) welcomed visitors for a host of free activities today from 11am-5pm.

The Grade 1 listed building was built in 1848 and was once the home of Granada TV. At present the building houses National Museums Liverpool staff.

Dr King's legendary speech will be played at intervals throughout the day. Visitors can take part in art workshops, watch short films produced by young people, listen to live poetry, and enjoy dance performances by Greenhouse Dance project.

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, officially welcomed visitors to the event.

Linking to Dr King's speech, Merseyside film-maker Chase Johnston-Lynch has been interviewing Merseysiders about their hopes and dreams for the future. Chase's film will be shown during the day and visitors will get the chance to tell Chase about their aspirations for the world.

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, said: "We named the building after Dr Martin Luther King Jr last year and were keen to mark the anniversary of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. We were very fortunate to have Dr King's son, Martin Luther King III, visit us last year and give us his blessing in naming the building after his remarkable father.'

"People will get a rare chance to see inside the building and take part in family activities as well as learning about the remarkable life and struggle of Dr King."

Between 3-5pm there will be a film screening of PBS America's "Citizen King" documentary at the International Slavery Museum which gives an insight into the dramatic civil rights struggle.

Long-term, National Museums Liverpool hopes to expand the International Slavery Museum into the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building which would become a state-of-the-art education and research centre.

The building would become the front door of the International Slavery Museum. Currently the display galleries are contained within the Merseyside Maritime Museum on the third floor. The plan is that a striking glass walkway would connect the Martin Luther King Building to the International Slavery Museum. This development work is subject to further funding.

Dr Benjamin added: "Since opening in 2007, the International Slavery Museum has grown in strength and influence. Our aim is to expand and evolve and become the leading museum and research centre in the world on slavery as well as being an active campaigner for social justice."

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