At the beginning of the semester I found myself struggling to make any meaningful connections between struggles seen in Ireland and America. I was met with a wave of relief upon hearing that I wasn’t the only one struggling. As the semester drove on and we started to have better discussions in class I started to pick up on some common themes simply from hearing one of us discuss them in class when talking about different works.
Now, at the closing of the semester I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made in my understanding of the connections between the two countries at the time. This culminated in our discussions of our final papers where I was able to listen to the points that were made in a number of papers and get an idea of where you were deriving your thesis from before you started to explain it. One of the more concrete examples is the role hope played. I think that coming into the class I was looking for more tangible connections in the form of policy or structure rather than a feeling. But feelings make up so much of what we discussed. You don’t simply set out to partake in a social revolution without having some sort of strong feeling about the matter.
Another connection I did not foresee making was the importance of religion in both countries. MLK used religion in an attempt to draw a wider audience to the civil rights movement whereas religion was a key divider in Ireland. Religion obviously played a major role in inspiring the Catonsville Nine to act. Again, this was not particularly what I was anticipating being one of the connections between the two situations.
Had you asked me anything prior to the class about the connections between Catholics in Ireland and blacks in America in the year 1968 I would’ve told that there were none. Looking back, I can name a number of them off the top of my head.