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Imperfect Parallels: The Civil Rights Movements in the USA and Ireland


In this symposium, which is the first of five symposia in the John Lewis-John Hume Symposium on Social Justice and Civil Rights series, we will focus on parallels that could be drawn, even if imperfectly, between the history of civil rights in the USA and Ireland. We also wish to reflect, collectively, on how we might best apply the lessons learned from the civil rights movement in the twentieth century, in the USA and in Ireland, to “the unfinished business” and “ongoing struggle” for civil and human rights in the twenty-first century.

The symposium takes place virtually on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m.

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Participating panelists will consider the following questions: What analogies can be drawn, if any, between the US and Ireland when it comes to civil rights? In what ways are the geopolitical situations disanalogous, dissonant rather than resonant, whether fifty years ago or today, when considering the African American civil rights movement and the Northern Ireland civil rights movement? What was the aftermath of both movements, and what progress has been made since those victories in terms of peace and reconciliation? What lessons have we learned, or should have learned, from the history of the civil rights movement and how might those lessons be applied to issues still confronting us today?