A BRONZE statue of Dr Martin Luther King Jr has been unveiled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his visit to the North-East.

The two metre tall structure was commissioned to remember Dr King’s visit to Newcastle University to accept an honorary degree on November 13, 1967.

It was unveiled by Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend and colleague of Dr King’s who accompanied him to Newcastle five decades ago.

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The base of the statue is encircled by bronze lettering inset into Caithness paving, featuring text taken from the civil rights leader’s powerful acceptance speech in which he spoke of the ‘three urgent and grave problems’ facing the world: war, poverty and racism.

The visit was Dr King’s last public address outside the US before he was murdered by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.

Sculptor Nigel Boonham said: “I searched for the essence of the man by collecting and studying over 100 black and white photographs as well as listening to his speeches.

“This informed the statue’s final design: Dr King standing firm with legs apart, holding his hat and leaning back slightly.

“It appeared to me that Dr King was braced for whatever came his way.”