In a departure from our usual format, our guest Christian Bolden tells a personal story of visiting Ireland for the first time as a graduate student. He describes his experience as an African American in Dublin in 2016, a moment when three events captured attention: the US presidential election, the killing of Alton Sterling, and the death of Muhammad Ali.
Christian’s story echoes that of Frederick Douglass, the Black abolitionist, who traveled to Ireland on an extensive speaking tour when he was a young man in 1845. Douglass found kinship with Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator” who devoted his life to the repeal of the Penal Laws that inhibited the rights of Irish Catholics for centuries.
Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, Christian Bolden now resides in Washington D.C. due to the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina.
Christian is an inaugural board member of the African-American Irish Diaspora Network (AAIDN) with a mission dedicated to fostering relationships between African Americans and Ireland through shared heritage and culture. You’ll hear a lot more about the organization during our conversation.
The AAIDN is just one aspect of Christian’s community-building work. He has also been part of the Steel Sharpens Steel Summit a panel discussion committed to the enlightenment and enrichment of the Urban African-American Male Teen. He organized the "Re-New Orleans" event which commemorated the 5-Year Hurricane Katrina Anniversary and raised funding and awareness for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief effort.
A former Professional Staff Member in the U.S. House of Representatives, Bolden is now Principal at The Bolden Group which offers IT, Program/Project Management, and DEI services.
- The way we find kinship with historical and mythical figures.
- Frederick Douglass visited Ireland with a hope that there would be a sympathy for the abolitionist cause because there were echoes in the persecution of Catholics in Ireland.
- It’s incorrect and deeply problematic to equate the experience of the Irish immigrants with African people who were brought to America as slaves, and yet there’s something to learn when we see that there are similarities in aspects of the history.
- The power of curiosity in cross-cultural conversations.
- How Christian became a AAIDN, whose mission is to connect Ireland and African American communities. 38% of African Americans have Irish ancestry.
- One of their main projects includes the creation of the Frederick Douglass Way in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast with professor Christine Kinealy.
- Diversity is about as more than demographic - it’s about diversity in experience and in ideas
- 2020 discovery by archaeologists and geneticists: the Irish of 10,000 years ago had black skin and blue eyes.
- More stories about Black people in northern Europe across history: Bonnie Greer’s podcast In Search of Black History
- Connections across centuries and millennia
- For the record, the oldest pub in Dublin is the Brazen Head!
Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called "The College Groves." billyandbeth.com
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