Community groups, businesses and individuals from all over Hull are sought to be torchbearers in the unique event, described by organisers as ‘a moving celebration of Freedom in flame and light’.
To commemorate the event acclaimed writer, poet, broadcaster and resident poet for the London Olympics, Lemn Sissay MBE, will end the procession with a spine-tingling rendition of Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, 50 years on. Accompanied by Freedom Chorus, the reading will be a moving culmination to Friday night’s opening event. Lemn Sissay commented on what the speech means to him, “It’s an honour to be reciting Martin Luther King’s truly ground-breaking words, which have played such a pivotal part in the freedom of individuals around the world and still have so much impact 50 years on. It’s going to be a very special moment at the festival, and I’m looking forward to being part of the celebrations
The 600-people procession will mark Hull’s historic contribution to the cause of Freedom as William Wilberforce’s birthplace, starting at the Wilberforce statue in the city centre, before taking participants along the narrow streets of the city’s Old Town and along the river to the Fruit Market. The family-friendly event will enable groups and individuals aged 14 and over to be torchbearers. Children under 14 are unable to carry a flaming torch but are still welcome to experience the unique occasion by taking part in the procession.
Graham Chesters, Chair, Freedom Festival Board says: “Freedom has never held a mass participation event on this scale before, so we’re breaking new ground in the festival’s development. The procession will celebrate our city’s links to freedom through Wilberforce, and also honour another historic occasion in the history of freedom, Martin Luther King’s speech. We hope that the people of Hull will embrace this fantastic opportunity to be part of something truly special.”
Cllr Terry Geraghty, Portfolio holder for Leisure & Culture, Hull City Council says: “As the city embraces our status as shortlisted candidate for UK City of Culture 2017, this is a chance for residents to get involved in one of our biggest cultural offerings and what will be a memorable and moving event.”