King visit can boost ‘fragile’ peace process

Martin Luther King III who will be in Derry next weekend for the 'Bright Brand New Day' event.
Martin Luther King III who will be in Derry next weekend for the 'Bright Brand New Day' event.

Next week’s visit to Derry by a son of assassinated US civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. can help ‘re-energise a fragile peace process’.

This is the view of Reverend David Latimer, the Protestant minister who has helped organise the historic visit.

Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of the Nobel peace laureate shot dead in Memphis in 1968, will speak at the cross-community ‘Bright Brand New Day’ event on Sunday, May 19.

It will also feature hundreds of local schoolkids joining songwriter Phil Coulter at Guildhall Square to perform a rendition of his new city anthem, ‘A Bright Brand New Day’. Schools and colleges across the region have also composed individual ‘Peace Pledges’ which will be put on permanent display.

David Latimer says the eyes of the world are firmly focused on Derry during its City of Culture celebrations.

“If anyone can be used to re-energise a fragile peace process and empower a city and its people to believe that a new life can be shaped, it is Martin Luther King III,” he said.

“Mr King has previously said, ‘If we do not find that we have more in common than we do apart, we will crash’. To secure a man of such international renown, at a time when people are beginning to lose faith in the political process, is extremely fortuitous.”

Dr. Latimer added: “We are being given a unique opportunity to tune into the message of a man who has a vision for building shared societies and convincing people that difficulties can be resolved in non-violent ways.

“As we all know to our cost, a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

In all, Mr. King will spend four days in the North and, while in Derry, will meet with Nobel laureate John Hume who, in 1999, was awarded the Martin Luther King Peace Award.

Mr. King will also visit Parliament Buildings at Stormont for talks with politicians.