Commemorating Northern Ireland Civil Rights

$600 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 1 month
"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.

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.

Lastly, I look forward to learning about Ireland's myths, legends, and stories of its magnificent culture.
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Air Your Linen

I’ve always loved textile art, and when I learned that Northern Ireland’s Linen Biennale is attempting to make the biggest tablecloth in NI by 2020, I asked if I could contribute.

“Northern Ireland’s Linen Biennale celebrates the past, present and future landscape of linen through the arts. The Linen Biennale stimulates new thinking about Ireland’s oldest textile products: flax and linen."

They are seeking lightly used “100% Linen Tablecloths or Napkins.” It will be stitched together to form the largest tablecloth ever exhibited for their next Linen Biennale in 2020.

If you have light used linen that you would like to donate for Northern Ireland’s Linen Biennale, please contact me before April 3, to make arrangements for its transfer. I’m willing to pick it up if you live within 30 miles of Northampton. I have limited luggage space, but I’m willing to pay any reasonable airline fees for the extra baggage weight to make sure Massachusetts is represented.

To learn more about the Linen Biennale go to: https://www.linenbiennalenorthernireland.com/air-your-linen-2/
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The Black O’Connell

As I prepare for my trip to Ireland next month to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Belfast to Derry Civil Rights March, people have been recommending to me to read about Fredrick Douglas’ historic four-month visit to Ireland back in the mid 1840s. I was told in Northern Ireland I’ll discover murals of Douglas and other Civil Rights activists painted on walls in Belfast and Derry.

Early today I finally finished a book titled Fredrick Douglas Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. It’s a sweeping history of Douglas’ life and times from birth to death. I was so moved by the culmination of his life in the story that I cried when he passed away. And to give more meaning to my research on his life I visited Quinnipiac University last weekend to see a special exhibit at the school on Fredrick Douglas in Ireland. While there I also visited the Irish Hunger Museum.

I’ve attached a few pictures of the exhibit here. Douglas spent four months in Ireland giving over 50 speeches and publishing a special Irish edition of his autobiography The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, An American Slave.

On one of his first nights in Dublin where he landed in August 1845, he met another famous Abolitionist named Daniel O’Connell, who Douglas greatly admired for his oratory skills. O’Connell invited Douglas to the stage to speak and the nickname the Black O’Connell was given to Douglas.

As I explore Civil Rights, Peace and Reconciliation, and identity in Northern Ireland I will remember Fredrick Douglas and the love the Irish provided him while there.
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In preparing for my peace walk across Northern Ireland next month, today I visited Ireland's Great Hunger Museum (Músaem An Ghorta Mhóir) in Quinnipiac, Conn. It's a wonderful museum and I must go back to take in more. The Irish famine occurred between 1845-1849. During the famine about one million people died and another one million left the country. To learn more about this amazing museum here in New England visit https://www.ighm.org
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The Belfast to Derry peace walk route I plan to take across Northern Ireland is now available to view on the Walk to Freedom website at ourwalktofreedom.com
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Raised by 12 people in 1 month
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