News and Views

Douglass Week - February 8-14

4 Feb 2021

In the autumn of 1845, a young and charismatic African-American abolitionist sailed from America to Ireland for a four-month lecture tour of the island. Frederick Douglass had been born into slavery but escaped bondage on a plantation in Maryland by fleeing to the North, where he became a prominent anti-slavery activist. Douglass lectured to large and enthusiastic audiences in Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Belfast, met with Daniel O’Connell, and reflected upon the devastating effects of the famine then beginning to sweep the nation.

To commemorate this historic visit, UCC academics, in collaboration with students, artists, writers and community groups around Ireland, have launched #DouglassWeek with the support of the Frederick Douglass Family. 

From Monday, February 8th to Sunday, February 14th, students, researchers, historians, artists, musicians, poets, authors, singers, activists, and community groups from Ireland and abroad will commemorate Douglass’ visit. Participants will respond to Douglass’ story with performances, visual art, music, and more.

#DouglassWeek programming highlights the experience of Douglass and other abolitionists, and explores issues like identity, migration, and race in contemporary Ireland. It emphasises the continued importance of remembering slavery and the intertwined struggle for independence and liberation in Ireland and the US.

#DouglassWeek consists of six different strands of interest: Historical, Literary, Educational, Music, Creative, and Sports. All strands consist of a series of talks and “in conversation” events as well as other projects, performances, initiatives, and contributions from the UK and the US. Some strands will include interactive workshops open to the public; videos, additional materials, and messages of support from special guests on #DouglassWeek social media channels.

All events are online and free of charge. 


Highlights of the festival include:

  • Monday, 8 February, 7-8:15pm (GMT): The Iveagh House Lecture: Douglass/O’Connell AddressAddress by Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, followed by a panel conversation with Douglass descendant Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Secretary General Niall Burgess, Mark Durkan from the John & Pat Hume Foundation and, including a tribute to the late US Congressman John Lewis.
  • Tuesday, 9 February, 8:30pm : Douglass and Diversity on ScreenRoundtable with actors Roger Guenveur Smith and Paul Oakley Stovall (Hamilton), followed by a live performance by Smith of his play “Frederick Douglass NOW”.
  • Wednesday, 10 February, 8pm : A Musical Evening to Commemorate Douglassfeaturing Hamilton stars Paul Oakley Stovall and Nikhil Saboo, Lesley Roy, Grammy-award winning songwriter Marcus Hummon and many others.
  • Thursday, 11th, 8.30pm-10pm : Douglass’s GenresPanel discussion highlighting Douglass’s enormous contribution across several literary genres – autobiography, oratory, letter writing and more.
  • Friday, 12th, 8pm : Poetry Evening: Frederick Douglass: Past, Present and Future: Poetry readings featuring a selection of Irish and U.S. poets reading work about and inspired by Douglass. This event includes the announcement of #DouglassWeek Poetry Competition winner and a live performance of the poem by Roger Guenveur Smith.
  • Saturday, 13 February, 8-9pm: Imagining DouglassAuthors Colum McCann and Jewell Parker Rhodes read from and discuss their novels Transatlantic (2013) and Douglass’s Women (2002).
  • Sunday, 14 February, 8-9pm: Our Strong Women: Closing Eventfeaturing former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Douglass descendant Nettie Washington Douglass, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, Dr. Ebun Joseph and Emma Dabiri.

More details:


University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF