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Commemorating Northern Ireland Civil Rights

$205 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 19 days
"Nonviolence is noncooperation with evil. Nonviolence examines history and the human condition; it dissects issues, speaks truth to power, and develops a strategy to arrive at humane solutions, including policies. Nonviolence is active and courageous." ~ Martin L. King, Jr.

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This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 People's Democracy March from Belfast to Derry, in Northern Ireland.

Follow me on my next Walk to Freedom journey, to Northern Ireland, in April, as the Amherst Irish Association’s 2018 Margaret Maher Award recipient.

 In Ulster, I will be:

●     Commemorating the 1969 People's Democracy March by retracing the steps of the original Civil Rights marchers from Belfast to Derry, about 114 km (70 miles)

●     Reflecting on how the People's Democracy March was modeled on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Right to Vote March led by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. 

●     Learning how this march galvanized the political "Troubles" of Northern Ireland when peaceful civil rights protesters were ambushed and attacked by Ulster loyalist mobs and part-time B-Specials with rocks, wooden cudgels, iron bars, and bottles as they neared the Burntollett Bridge outside of Londonderry. 

●     Talking to people born before and after the “Troubles” to learn about their concerns for peace today.

With the winds of time at our back, we know the Civil Rights struggle for nonviolence lost out to the more militant voices heard across Northern Ireland. While retracing the original march route, I hope to learn why Truth and Reconciliation after 30 years is in peril today as the Brexit deadline nears.

To accomplish this undertaking, I am asking friends who are interested in learning more about the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, at a critical 50 year mark in time, through my Walk to Freedom journey, to consider donating $50, $100, or more to help me reach my goal of raising $4,000 to cover necessary camping and hiking equipment, hotel rooms for when sleeping outdoors is not possible, meals, recording equipment, and communication and transportation expenses. The Amherst Irish Association is providing airfare.

The walk will start in Belfast on April 10, the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, and include stops in Antrim, Randalstown, Hillhead, Toome, Gulladuff, Brackagh, Glen Shane, Dungiven, Feeney, Claudy, Burntollet Bridge, Altnagelvin, Irish Street, Spencer Road, Crossing of Foyle River, and conclude at Free Derry.

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Lastly, I look forward to learning about Ireland's myths, legends, and stories of its magnificent culture.
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Last Monday night I bounded up the stairs of Berchmans Hall at Elms College and then casually walked into my new class thinking I was arriving on time. Then I was casually informed the start time had been changed to 6:00 p.m. from 6:45.

Oops, My bad. It’s a small class, and naturally everyone’s eyes turned to look at me as I walked through the door. They probably all thought I was lost. This class was for beginning Irish Language learners and no one else looked like me in the class.

I explained I had just enrolled in the class earlier that day. The professors said “Fáilte” (Welcome in Gaelic) and invited me to join in. For many of the six to eight students in the class this was their second semester taking Gaelic or coming back to it after being away from it for some time.

The professor immediately started speaking Gaelic and I felt like a deer in headlights. Frozen, staring and listening to a sound I’ve never heard spoken before. It doesn’t resemble any of the Romance languages that English is based upon. I was at a loss for most of the class trying to understand basic Gaelic like:

“Tá me I mo chonai Holyoke,” or I live in Holyoke.
“Is mise Cionnath,” I am Kenneth
And, “Is mise Cionnath agus is as Philadelphia me,” I am Ken, I am from Philadelphia.

As I reflected back on foreign language classes I always had difficulty with as a young student in high school, I felt myself trying to hide in the space of my chair, afraid to answer because I wasn’t sure of what I was hearing.

And then, thank God, the class was over. We could again converse in the English oppressor’s language.

Here's a song in Gaelic that we listened to in class. Its called Tras na dTonnta

This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 People's Democracy March from Belfast to Derry, in Northern Ireland. Follow me on my next Walk to Freedom journey to Northern Ireland, in April, as the Amherst Irish Association’s 2018 Margaret Maher Award recipient.

If any of these blog posts interest you, I hope you will consider supporting my peace walk to Northern Ireland.
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In April, I plan to travel to Northern Ireland to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 People’s Democracy March with a five day peace walk from Belfast to Derry.

During the lead up to my departure, I plan to share stories about Ireland and Northern Ireland that I am discovering. Some of the stories I plan to share will be about any pre-conceived ideas I have formed on Ireland, and questions I’ve asked myself based on what I have read. One example of a question I have asked is: Do I have the same ideas and values about Ireland as Irish Americans? Or are my ideas more radical on Ireland as an African American whose race has had to endure segregation?

I look forward to exploring these and other issues related to Civil Rights in Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic sectarian views, Brexit, Peace Walls, the Educational system of Northern Ireland, Crime and Punishment, and Who is Irish?

If any of these topics interest you, I hope you will consider supporting my peace walk to Northern Ireland.
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$205 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 19 days
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