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[Posted on behalf of Reagan]

Rarely has there been a more significant connection to America in Tyneside than Jimmy Carter touching down in Newcastle, in 1977. It was a huge event, attended by a 20,000[1] strong crowd, the Prime Minister James Callaghan, and Councillor Hugh White, who presented Carter with the honorary freedom of the city[2]. Carter started his speech informally, hoping to win over the jubilant crowd with an exclamative “Ha’way-tha-lads!”[3], showing that Carter tried to connect with the people personally. Carter then touched on issues that concerned both America and the UK as members of “our free world”[4], explaining his and Callaghan’s commitment to initiate employment programs for young people, and their dedication to “strengthening the ties of military strength which bind us together in NATO”[5]. Carter closed by mentioning important cultural ties, such as when Queen Elizabeth visited America for its 200th birthday, and how he would visit the town of Washington, “where our first President’s ancestors resided”[6] later that day. The most important aspect of Carter’s speech is the peppering of language that denotes the togetherness of the US and UK; he mentions a “common purpose”, “special friendship”, and “ties of kinship”.[7] This language reinforces the already existing ‘special relationship’ America has with the UK, this term used first by Winston Churchill in a 1946 speech[8] during exceptionally different circumstances (for example, it was in the same speech that he talked about the ‘iron curtain’), but still important today, in the face of overwhelming adversity and global uncertainty.

[1] Barbara Hodgson, ‘From US President Jimmy Carter to Bob Geldof: famous faces who have visited Newcastle Civic Centre’ The Chronicle, <http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/president-jimmy-carter-bob-geldof-9666574> [accessed 16 February 2017] (para 4 of 17.)

[2] John Woolley, Gerhard Peters, ‘Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England – Remarks at the Newcastle Civic Centre’, The American Presidency Project, <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=7472&gt; [accessed 16 February 2017]

[3] (Ibid.)

[4] (Ibid.)

[5] (Ibid.)

[6] (Ibid.)

[7] (Ibid.)

[8] ‘A Point of View: Churchill and the birth of the special relationship’, BBC News <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17272610&gt; [accessed 16 February 2017] (para 1 of 30.)

[Posted on behalf of Ioni]

Krispy Kreme opened their first Tyneside store in 2012, located in a popular shopping and retail park in Gateshead. Since then a further store has opened in Newcastle city centre, as well as big-named supermarkets having cabinets stocking their doughnuts. Their delicious flavours are now accessible across Tyneside all contained in the distinctive green and white polka dot casing with their familiar logo. Krispy Kreme stores are furnished in a stereotypical American diner way, with large amounts of doughnuts on constant display. Before Krispy Kreme opened in Tyneside, people were not able to access fast food style restaurants for quick sweet snacks. Like McDonalds, people adopted this new way of eating, very different to the traditional British pub grub or corner shop.  The popularity and continued success of Krispy Kreme shows the extent to which Tyneside has adopted this new lifestyle.

Corporate American chains are hard to miss throughout Tyneside and American culture has become part of society, with people shopping at stores like Krispy Kreme frequently. The take-over of these big American chains shows Americas dominance in the corporate world, with more countries being Americanised. This dominance has led to people engaging with America’s supersize eating and fast-food culture, for example, Krispy Kreme tempting people with their dozen Doughnut deals and further refreshments. When speaking about American chains like Krispy Kreme, George Ritzer states that “what is critical about [them] is that they are powerful representations of American culture and they all bring that culture to any nation to which they are exported”.[1] This supports the power of Americanisation and the influence it has on any society. The Tyneside area is a prime example of this with the popular expansion of Krispy Kreme being embraced by the people who live here and the Americanisation of the company being soaked up by its customers.

[1] George Ritzer, cited in Neil Campbell and Alasdair Kean, ‘Transmission of American Culture’, in American Cultural Studies: An Introduction to American Culture, 4th edn, (New York: Routledge, 2016), p. 337.

Henry and Anna Richardson were famously known for being a pair of successful and well established Quaker abolitionists, who dedicated most of their lives freeing slaves who had been held captive by their masters oversees in America. The couple originated from Newcastle Upon Tyne, and a significant relationship can be found in the form of America and Tyneside in the case of the north-east Quaker’s, especially due to the number of slaves Henry and Anna assisted in helping. The stand out former slave they have been involved with is Frederick Douglass, who wrote the ground-breaking book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, who the Richardson’s met when Douglass embarked on his tour after rising to fame, which included a stop in Newcastle, another connection which can be made between Tyneside and America. One historical building in Newcastle that relates to both the Richardson’s and Douglass is a house in Summerhill Grove, where the former slave stayed with Henry and Anna for a while. This significant moment in transnational history is being memorialized, with the house ‘set to have a blue plaque whose unveiling will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King receiving his doctorate in the city.’[1] The plaque will be open to the public later this year. Newcastle city council have also expressed their admiration for Douglass. ‘Frederick was one of the most historically significant African-American figures of the 19th Century and a leading anti-slavery and early civil rights campaigner’.[2] The council’s words of praise make the inhabitants of Newcastle feel privileged to have an American cultural icon like Douglass inhabit the city and take in the culture at that time. Henry and Anna’s historical achievements has made the people of Tyneside proud, and it’s brought an influx of positive Americanization to the city, with people being made more aware of the impressive cultural connection Tyneside has with America.

[1] Barbara Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honored in Martin Luther King anniversary year”, The Chronicle, 5th November 2016,

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/former-slave-freed-newcastle-couple-12126390

[Accessed 15th February 2017]

 

[2] Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honoured in Martin Luther King anniversary year”

In May 1977, Newcastle-upon-Tyne hosted an important guest: President Jimmy Carter. This visit was ground-breaking as no other U.S. president had ever visited the northern city, and was a once in a lifetime experience for many residents of Newcastle.

President Carter was met by a crowd of thousands at Newcastle Civic Centre, where he gave a powerful speech about the relationship between the United States and Britain. Carter showed appreciation towards Newcastle by starting with the words: ‘Howay the lads! I’m very grateful to be a Geordie now’[1], following being presented with an honorary freedom of the city. These words by the President echo a feeling of joy that many Geordies felt having such an influential world leader in the city and embracing their culture.

The visit was not only exciting for the people of Newcastle, but Britain as a whole. By Carter travelling to the U.K. after having been President for only a few short months, and travelling to diverse cities such as Newcastle, shows how much the President valued the relationship between the United States and Britain. During his visit, President Carter stated:

 

I’ve always felt in times of challenge for our own great country a sense of support and confidence because of the unshakable friendship between the people of the United Kingdom and the people of the United States of America.[2]

 

These strong words portray a sense of unity between the two countries and reinforce the idea that it is a lasting relationship.

The way President Carter was accepted by the people of Newcastle, and the reception he was given at the Civic Centre shows how much influence the United States had on Britain in the past, an influence that is still strong today.

References:

[1] The American Presidency Project, ‘Jimmy Carter – Remarks at the Newcastle Civic Centre’, 6th May 1977 <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=7472>, accessed 15th February 2017.

[2] Ibid.

Love them or hate them, reality TV shows are now a huge part of modern popular culture. The UK has embraced this form of mindless reality television within the past several years. The US gave us Laguna Beach, The Hills and The Simple Life, and so I guess we have them to thank for shows like The Real Housewives of Cheshire, The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea – cheers, America! Although Britain is fairly late to the game in this brand of TV, we could certainly give the States a run for their money if the goal is to satisfy guilty pleasures.
MTV’s Jersey Shore first came to our screens in 2009 and ran until December 2012. The show is a quintessential example of American ‘reality’ television: it follows the highly dramatised lives of eight twentysomethings sharing a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Just two years later in 2011, we were treated to our very own British spin-off in the form of MTV’s Geordie Shore. Essentially the only differences between the two is the location and the accent. The rest is pretty much the same – even down to the false tan. To someone who has never seen either shows, I’d encourage you to imagine a soap opera where all of the characters are intoxicated. Ask anyone on Tyneside about the show, and I’d say that the majority will roll their eyes. Although I myself am not from Newcastle (Sunderland native here), I can guarantee that watching Geordie Shore will not give you an accurate picture of the average Newcastle local, just as I imagine that watching Jersey Shore will give you a very skewed depiction of a true Jerseyite.

 

Football and rugby are Tyneside’s traditional sports, with fifty three thousand supporters regularly cramming into St.James’ Park to watch their beloved Newcastle United. In its shadow, not many streets across the city there is a quiet sporting revolution going on, led by Bronx born Fabulous Flournoy.

 

Fab arrived in Newcastle to be a player for the Newcastle Eagles basketball team and in 2002 became the player/manager of the team. Since then the Eagles have become the most successful team in the history of the British Basketball League, with more League Titles and cup wins than any other team; and Fab is credited with all their success.

 

Before coming to England Fab had played for NCAA Division one side, McNeese State University. A combination of him being a terrific player and manager, huge personality, and his community work soon made him a favourite among Newcastle sports fans. He organised out-reach programmes to take basketball into schools on an organised basis for the first time, and visited Young Offender’s Institutions to mentor the inmates, and to promote his sport as a way of keeping out of trouble.

 

He successfully applied for dual citizenship and is now officially a Geordie American. At the beginning of 2017 when the New Year’s Honours List was published by Buckingham Palace, Fab’s name was on it. The Queen had bestowed an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) Honour on him, for his service to British basketball and the North- East community.

 

So, to you Fabulous Flournoy may not be a name that you associate with being an American Icon, but here on Tyneside he is the man who gets us to drop our famous British reserve and chant, “Let’s go Eagles, Let’s go!” at his entertaining and exciting team. To Tyneside he is an American Icon held in the greatest esteem.

 

 

 

References:

 

http://www.newcastle-eagles.com Accessed 15/02/17

 

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk Accessed 15/02/17

 

Another Route 66 eatery in middle America.  Got any additional pictures of Route 66 around the world to post?

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