A good place to start is with the National Union of Journalists national delegates meeting which took place at Newcastle Civic Centre between 5th-7th October. Two events I attended spring to mind immediately with regards to remembering our heritage.
Firstly there were the Friday evening lectures in memory of the journalist and activist Claudia Jones, which took place in the King's Hall at Newcastle University. The theme of the lectures was to commemorate the day in November 1967, when Martin Luther King was given an honorary doctorate by Newcastle University. Newcastle was the only university in Britain to honour Dr King in his lifetime. We heard a number of passionate and articulate speeches and perhaps best of all saw some film of MLK receiving his degree and his spontaneous speech of acceptance. This film can be found at http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2012/10/06/film-footage-of-dr-martin-luther-king-s-tyneside-visit-is-found-72703-31979850/ .
Martin Luther King was not the only Afro-American to be honoured on Tyneside in the 20th century. Both the singer Paul Robeson and the boxer Muhammad Ali were given open-top bus procession round Tyneside streets. In many ways Tyneside has a strong anti-racism heritage.
The second particyularly noteworthy event was the speech obn the Sunday morning by Wai Hnin of the Burma Campaign UK. She spoke excellently, explaing why the media and trade unionists should not assume that all is now well in Burma as human rights abuses, including forced labour, continue in Burma, despite the recent reforms. Wai Hnin had come to Newcastle in June of 2011 to accept the Freedom of Newcastle on behalf of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. At that time, Wai Hnin's father was in prison, for his political activities and facing many more years. Wai Hnin wondered if she would ever see her father again. Thanfully he has since been released as part of an amnesty for political prisoners, but it was still very poignant when Wai Hnin spoke of how she didn't want other young people to suffer in the way she had, when her father was in detention.
Wai Hnin deservedly received a standing ovation from a number of delegates. It was also a reminder to me of our region;s internationalist traditions. Along with our anti-racist traditions, lomg may they continue.