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A fascinating few days ahead as Frederick Douglass Wexford Civil Rights Festival gets under way


Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass


THE Frederick Douglass Wexford Civil Rights Festival is set to kick off at Wexford Arts Centre tonight (Thursday) with a series of fascinating events and speakers taking centre stage over four days.

The legendary abolitionist, civil rights leader and former slave Frederick Douglass spoke at the site of the Wexford Arts Centre, then known as The Assembly Rooms, back in 1845 as part of a tour of Ireland and the UK where he was seeking support for the abolition of slavery. The organisers of the festival which bears his name hope to carry on the great man’s legacy with a series of panel discussions and talks focusing on civil rights in a modern context, as well as looking at the history behind Douglass’ movement and visit to Wexford.

The festival gets under way at 8.30 p.m. tonight with ‘So say so’ – an open mic night hosted by poet Stephen James Smith, with guest poet Ciara Ní Éanacháin and local poets welcome.

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Things kick up a notch on Friday night from 7 p.m. with former director of Amnesty International and current director at the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative Colm O’Gorman giving a key note speech. 

On Saturday, things get started at 11 a.m. with a Women’s Activist Panel in Room 1 and a creative arts children’s workshop with Red Moon in Room 2. At 2 p.m. the topic of conversation will change to ‘Wexford welcomes migrants...or not?’ in Room 1, while the other room hosts a creative writing workshop with Vic Kelly.

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, an Arts Cabaret will take place with an eclectic mix of poetry, comedy and music, promising to be a great night.

The final day of the festival will begin with local direct provision residents hosting an African Feast, with tickets priced at €35 each or €60 for two. This will be followed at 3.30 p.m. by a lecture on the history of abolitionists in Wexford by Prof. Christine Kinealy.

For more details on the festival and for ticket details, visit wexfordartscentre.ie or check out the Frederick Douglass Wexford Civil Rights Festival on social media.