Civil Rights: Lessons Ireland and US

On 16 November 2018, the Chair hosted a seminar on the Magee Campus that focused on “Civil Rights: Lessons from Ireland and US”. It was a timely seminar in that it considered over 50 years on what had been achieved in since the civil rights movements in the US and also in Ireland.

Dr Andrew Williams, Director of HECUA, speaking on civil rights in the US

The main speaker at the seminar was Andrew Williams, Director of HECUA. HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) trace back to the 1968 unrest in North Minneapolis following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The urgency and turbulence of the situation prompted Ewald (Joe) Bash, National Youth Director of the American Lutheran Church, and Joel Torstenson, an Augsburg College sociology professor, to build a unique program for college students to understand the nature of the urban crisis. INCORE, under the management of the Chair, partners with HECUA each year to teach and place US students in Derry-Londonderry each year.

To this end, Andrew made the perfect speaker to reflect on the ongoing challenges, particularly in the US, with regard to race. A black person is killed by the state or state-sanctioned violence in the US every 28 hours noted Andrew. One of the most striking quotes Andrew spoke to and developed was ““…because white men can’t police their imagination, black men are dying” (Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric).

Professor Paul Arthur responding to Dr Andrew Williams

On the day Professor Paul Arthur, Professor Emeritus of INCORE and Ulster University, also shared his views and personal experience about the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. He responded to Andrew’s talk noting that rof Paul Arthur says three words that stuck out were “wounded justice”, “indifference” and “mid-wife”. The hope lies in the growth of civil society that can be the “mid-wife” entrenching civil rights.

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