Black Abolitionists in Ireland: Important and well-researched

Christine Kinealy meticulously traces the travels of 10 abolitionists to Ireland

Portrait of American orator and abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond (1810 - 1873), 1850s. Photograph: JP Ball/Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Portrait of American orator and abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond (1810 - 1873), 1850s. Photograph: JP Ball/Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Ireland’s troubled history, Daniel O’Connell once said, “may be traced like the track of a wounded man through a crowd”. How much “more true” was this, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass asked, of black Americans? “Their history is nothing but blood! blood! – blood in the morning, blood at noon, blood at night..

Recent police killings in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Atlanta have shown that racist violence still blights the African-American experience, that it is still necessary to declare that Black Lives Matter. From the United States’ foundation to its civil war, many black activists against enslavement visited Ireland to follow O’Connell’s invocation to “agitate, agitate, agitate”. Christine Kinealy, who has previously chronicled Douglass’s time in Ireland, meticulously traces the travels of 10 such visitors, revealing that they inspired audiences from Belfast to Cork, Dublin to Limerick.

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