A son of assassinated US civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jnr. will be in Derry next month to speak at a high-profile peace building event, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
Martin Luther King III - the eldest son of the Nobel Peace Prize winner - will be the keynote speaker at a public citywide event on Sunday, May 19.
The brainchild of local Presbyterian minister David Latimer, the event at Guildhall Square will include hundreds of school children joining with Derry-born singer-songwriter Phil Coulter to sing his new anthem for the city, “Bright, Brand New Day.”
Also on the programme is the unveiling of the ‘Derry-Londonderry Peace Flame’ which, David Latimer believes, can “act as a powerful beacon to inspire thousands to turn their dreams of peace into reality.”
International singing sensations, ‘The Priests’ - fronted by Derry-born clerics Fathers Martin and Eugene O’Hagan - are also on the bill for the event.
Dr. Latimer met with Martin Luther King III during a visit to Washington DC earlier this year which coincided with the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Dr. Latimer met up with Mr. King, his wife and advisers at the Wendall Hotel which, coincidentally, is where Martin Luther King Jnr., penned his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
It’s believed Mr. Luther King will stay in the city for a number of days during May.
David Latimer told the ‘Journal’ that next month’s event was an opportunity for Derry to “show the world just how far we have come and to reveal that we are forging ahead into a future in which all our citizens are equally valued.”
He explained that “Bright, Brand New Day” was a bespoke peace building initiative for Derry which aspired to provide opportunities for Catholics and Protestants to hear each other’s stories, learn to understand one another and begin to live more peacefully together.
“It is, therefore, a great honour to have someone of the stature of Martin Luther King III coming to our part of the world to share his thoughts and aspirations with us.
“Having braved so many dangers and having endured so much hardship, there is no alternative for the people of this city but to keep moving forward together towards a destination of hope which, with Almighty God’s guidance and help, will be a better and a brighter place for us all.
“For the sake of our children, we must keep moving forward together. It is crucial we have a future where we will work and grow in harmony and not just for a particular cause but for the good of all.”
Throughout his life, Martin Luther King, III has worked with individuals committed to the struggle for human rights and a non-violent society.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and several honorary degrees and, two years ago, he was awarded one of India’s most prestigious honours - the Ramakrishna Bajaj Memorial Global Award for outstanding contributions to the promotion of human rights.