The University of Newcastle, Australia

Public Forum

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Political expert examines legacy of a dream at public forum

Professor Michael Ondaatje

As we narrow our gaze to our political condition in the lead up to a federal election, we also mark fifty years since Martin Luther King called for policy change for a better America in his "I Have a Dream" speech. US racial politics expert Dr Michael Ondaatje will examine King's legacy at the Newcastle Institute Forum next week.

"King is held up as a symbol of political heroism from a bygone era, and there are inevitable references to President Barack Obama and how he represents the fulfilment of his vision. Yet King's true legacy is more complex than this," said Dr Ondaatje.

As a civil rights activist, Martin Luther King is widely recognised for his role in influencing US policy in the 1960s.

"Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was one of the greatest oratorical achievements in American history and one of the emotional high points of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King envisioned a new America where people would "not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character". Today, fifty years on, both dreamer and dream are widely celebrated in the United States," said Dr Ondaatje.

A best-selling author, award winning teacher, esteemed researcher and regular media commentator, Dr Ondaatje is a Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Newcastle and a Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

The public forum will be held at 7.30pm on 11 September at Newcastle City Hall. Admission is a $5 donation and can be paid at the door. Bookings not required.

  • Sheena Martin
  • Phone: +61 2 4921 8714

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