The British Consulate General in Atlanta marched in the Atlanta Pride Parade on 12 October, becoming the first diplomatic mission to participate in the Atlanta Pride Festival’s 44-year history.
The Queen Awards Honorary Knighthood to Michael Bloomberg
The award recognises Mr Bloomberg’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic work, and the economic & cultural links he’s built between the UK and US.
UK Ambassador to the US Sir Peter Westmacott, praised Mr Bloomberg’s exceptional contribution to the UK through his public service:
As Mayor of New York, as a businessman, and as a philanthropist, Mike Bloomberg has played a key role in forging transatlantic diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties. He has made a significant contribution to British business life through his firm, Bloomberg L.P., and the impact of his considerable philanthropic endeavours in the arts and education is felt by Britons every day.
Today is World Day against the Death Penalty and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the last executions to take place in the UK.
We believe that death penalty has no place in the 21st Century. The death penalty undermines human dignity, it promotes killing as a solution and it’s unreasonable for states to teach citizens not to kill by killing.
Our staff from across the country, from the British Embassy in Washington and British Consulates in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta and Denver, stand against the death penalty because it’s degrading and cruel.
Royal Air Force Tornado jets have conducted armed reconnaissance operations over areas of Iraq where terrorists threaten the civilian population. The aircraft, currently deployed in Cyprus, have been flying intelligence-gathering missions over Iraq for a number of weeks. The picture shows a pilot boarding his aircraft at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
(Photo by Corporal Neil Bryden RAF, Crown copyright)
12 Years A Slave: Steve McQueen’s Film Goes From Silver Screen To The Schoolroom
By James Kariuki, Counsellor and Head of Politics, Economics and Communications Group at the British Embassy in Washington
“I know who Anne Frank is, but I didn’t know who Solomon Northrup was.” The Oscar-winning film, 12 Years a Slave, was inspired by British Director Steve McQueen’s determination to bring the true story of a free-man, tricked into slavery, to a global audience. Having succeeded at the box office, McQueen dreamt of bringing Northrup’s story to schools across America: it “needs to be shared and remembered for generations to come.”
McQueen’s dream came one step closer yesterday when he launched a project with the US National School Boards Association to make 12 Years a Slave available to American students. Public high schools will have access to educational toolkits, including a DVD of the film (edited for teen audiences), a Penguin paperback of the book and a study guide.
Speaking at Howard University – in Washington D.C.’s historically black Shaw district – McQueen told those of us privileged to be there that this goal was more important than Academy Awards. We had to remember not just the brutality of slavery but the spirit of those who confronted it. Northrup descendent Vera Williams reminded a mostly young, black audience that “in the 1800s, there were African Americans who were free, prosperous and living the American Dream. This story needs to be told.” For McQueen’s collaborator, TV personality Montel Williams, the project had contemporary relevance: “more people are living in slavery today than there were during the 19th century slave trade.”
Some US commentators were surprised that it took a black British Director to bring this most brutally compelling depiction of slavery to the big screen. But it is not the first time that British and American debates on emancipation and equality have informed each other.
Last year, representing the British Embassy at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, I wrote about transatlantic connections in the history of race relations. The early anti-slavery campaigns of British politician William Wilberforce. The liberating experience of black GIs stationed in Britain during the Second World War. The civil rights campaigner Claudia Jones, deported to London in the 1950s to became a founder of our Notting Hill Carnival. The bus boycott in Bristol, England - inspired by action in Montgomery, Alabama - which paved the way for the landmark UK Race Relations Act of 1965. Recent events in the US – from the election of a black President to the traumas of Florida and Ferguson - are followed as avidly in Britain as they are around the world.
Royal Navy ship HMS Argyll has spent her last few days at sea conducting exercises with the pride of the US Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and several other US ships. Argyll was put through her paces in an air defence exercise and crew members from the ships visited each other to gain a better understanding of how the other operates. In the picture, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which displaces 100,000 tons and has 5,000 crew, dwarfs HMS Argyll, which displaces 4,500 tons and has a crew of 190.
(Photo by: Leading Airman Steve Johncock, Crown copyright)
Marshall Scholars – 60 Years Of Special Relationships
By James Kariuki, Counsellor and Head of Politics, Economics and Communications Group at the British Embassy in Washington.
This morning, 32 brilliant young American graduates touched down in the UK to become the 60th class of Marshall Scholars.
Earlier this week, Ambassador Westmacott hosted the send-off party for the 2014 class. We heard a moving speech from White House Legislative Director Katie Beirne Fallon (Queens Belfast and LSE, ‘98), who told us how her experience as a Marshall – studying conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and South Africa – helped prepare her for her role building bridges between the White House and Congress. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns (Oxford, ‘78) received a Marshall medal in recognition of his long standing support to the Scholarship as well as everything else he does for the bilateral relationship. We were joined by Europe Minister David Lidington as well as some 150 Marshall Scholars from each of the last six decades.
Nearly 2,000 Americans have won a Marshall scholarship since the British Parliament established the programme to give thanks for General Marshall’s plan. They are just a small fraction of the 50,000 Americans who study each year in Britain’s world class universities. These links drive collaboration between the best higher education institutions on the planet. They also oil the wheels of cooperation in business and finance, arts and culture, politics and law, defence and diplomacy well beyond the labs and ivory towers of our two countries. In short, they are a consistently profitable investment in the future of our bilateral relationship.