Wednesday, November 15th, 2017.

Yuri Neves voicing Dr King’s historic speech for Metro passengers

The words of Martin Luther King’s momentous Newcastle University speech were brought back to life 50 years on by Excelsior Academy pupils.

Passengers on the Metro system heard pupil Yuri Neves, 15, recite elements of the speech the acclaimed civil rights campaigner made after accepting an honorary degree at the university in November 1967.

His Tyneside speech took on even greater historical significance when he was assassinated just five months later in Memphis.

The words of Dr King’s speech were played on the tannoy across all 60 Metro stations throughout Monday.

Extracts from his speech were voiced by Excelsior’s Yuri, with four recordings an hour broadcast across the Metro system.

Yuri was chosen for the recordings due to his involvement with Young Writers City at Excelsior, a New Writing North-led project based at the academy.

The Metro project took place as part of the year-long Freedom City 2017 programme produced by Wunderbar, to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s speech with a series of arts events.

Unannounced recitations of his speech also took place across Newcastle, including barbers, radio phone-ins, train platforms, shopping centres, banks, bridges, schools, fast food restaurants and hospitals.

Ilana Mitchell, artistic director for Wunderbar, said: “To make this project happen, we’ve met so many people: food bank volunteers, university professors, politicians, school pupils, business leaders, hairdressers, asylum seekers and doctors.

“People of different sexes, different races, different ages, different abilities. And the most striking thing for me is that pretty much across the board it’s been them telling us why this project is so important, not the other way around.

“In these challenging times, it’s a real testament to the city to hear Martin Luther King’s words so powerfully echoed by the voices of its residents.”