Sun 15 Jan is Martin Luther King Jr Day
Ever since Claudine Eccleston moved to Hastings about four years ago, she has hosted a house party to celebrate Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday on 15 January (MLK Day). Each year the party has got bigger and louder and more fun. This year, due to popular demand, the party is going public and will be hosted by the newly re-launched Palace venue on Hastings seafront. HOT’s Erica Smith catches up with Claudine for a bit of history and the sweet and low-down on this Sunday’s party with purpose.
“I was living in San Francisco in 1980 when the campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a Federal holiday hit the headlines. Stevie Wonder released the song Happy Birthday to praise him and rally public support. I have always admired Martin Luther King Jr because of his spirit of reconciliation and love, so I decided to organise a big party in the shop where I lived and worked.”
Since then, wherever she’s been living, Claudine has always held a party. People are encouraged to dress in their Sunday best, bring a pot-luck dish and maybe share a poem or a song. This year, she decided her house had reached capacity and asked the team at The Palace whether they could help. They were happy to take on the task, and agreed to host a free event for the the community.
“The Palace was the obvious venue to move the event to – it’s a family-friendly pub with American-style food and reasonable prices so there’s no need to bring a dish this year. I love their chips and they have the best selection of craft beers in town.”
Claudine went on to talk about the entertainment. “The event starts at 3pm and will run to 8pm and probably further in the evening. We’ve got some fabulous acts lined up, including Alice Barnard and Rufus Stone, The Cheap Dates and Sister Suzie. The whole thing will be family friendly, and there will be an open mic slot for anyone to sing or pay their tribute to MLK Jr. Plus, Hastings Voice Squad (the choir I sing in) will be covering Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday tribute song.”
Claudine was keen to make sure people realise that MLK Day is for EVERYONE of every colour, all ages and all persuasions, from punks to steam punks, “Lots of people help make this event happen – all the musicians, Rebecca Snotflower who created the poster and Bev Francis and Jill Birmingham-Darkk who have really helped out.”
The event is free, but there will be a bucket going round to fundraise for Guys & St Thomas’ Hospital Kidney Patient Association. Claudine’s aunt and part-time St Leonards resident Erica Tate is waiting for a kidney transplant and currently commutes to Guys and St Thomas’ three times a week for dialysis. If you can’t make it to the event, you can still donate via their JustGiving page.
Martin Luther King Jr Day 3–8pm, Sunday 15 January, at The Palace, 37 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JL.
For details, check out the Facebook Events page.
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