Gandhi: Hulton Archive/Getty Images King: SuperStock/Getty Images Mandela: Paul Weinberg, Anzenberger

Speech by Martin Luther King and American Emancipation Proclamation on exhibit at Nieuwe Kerk

One of the five iconic objects presented in De Nieuwe Kerk’s exhibition We Have a Dream. Gandhi, King, Mandela is a manuscript of a speech composed and typewritten by Dr Martin Luther King in September 1962. It is about the abolition of slavery in America, and has many elements in common with King’s famous I Have a Dream speech, delivered at the Washington Monument in August 1963. King delivered the address at a ceremony commemorating the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s historic Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery. A facsimile of Lincoln’s handwritten Emancipation Proclamation will also be on exhibit at De Nieuwe Kerk.

William Shakespeare, The Complete Works. Loan from: Sonny Venkatrathnam, fellow prisoner of Nelson Mandela

The exhibition also brings to the Netherlands special objects associated with the other two changemakers, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. While in prison on Robben Island, Mandela read The Complete Works of Shakespeare. A fellow inmate covered the volume in pictures of Hindi deities and smuggled it in, claiming it was his bible. The book contains notes written in Mandela’s hand, for instance next to Julius Caesar’s line: ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.

One of the objects associated with Gandhi is the spinning wheel he used to make his own clothes. He was instrumental in bringing about India’s independence from the British rule. He believed that hand-spun fabric (khadi) could be a peaceful means of achieving autonomy. At the end of the 1920s he called upon all Indians to wear clothes made of khadi. The mass movement this inspired broke the British monopoly.


We Have a Dream is an exhibition about three world-renowned figures who profoundly influenced the course of the twentieth century: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin

Martin Luther King Jr., Speech for the Rockefeller Commemoration Dinner. Loan from: New York State Library

Luther King and Nelson Mandela. They were ordinary people who led extraordinary movements against racial discrimination and social injustice. All three became role models around the world but also drew fierce criticism and opposition. Two were assassinated because of their ideas and activism.

Exhibition visitors will be able to experience their world, the injustice and the hope, the great moments in history and their personal journeys. They will discover how one person’s ideals can change the world. What were the turning points in their lives? How did they make a difference and why are we still inspired by them today? And who are the people working to make the world a better place now? This exhibition is a treasure trove of audio and visual exhibits and features iconic objects that were owned by each of these great leaders. Dates: 16 September 2017 to 4 February 2018.