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Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race$
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Bruce Nelson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153124

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153124.001.0001

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Negro Sinn Féiners and Black Fenians

Negro Sinn Féiners and Black Fenians

“Heroic ireland” and the Black Nationalist Imagination

(p.181) Chapter Seven Negro Sinn Féiners and Black Fenians
Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race

Bruce Nelson

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the strong attraction that Ireland held for Afro-Caribbean and African American intellectuals and activists such as Marcus Garvey, Cyril Briggs, Claude McKay, Hubert Harrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and A. Philip Randolph. The Afro-Caribbean activists, in particular, took inspiration from the “Irish Revolution.” References to the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood dotted their newspapers and broadsides, as did the names of Irish revolutionary heroes such as Terence MacSwiney and Eamon de Valera. Insofar as they embraced black nationalism, they pointed to the Irish preoccupation with “Ourselves,” which they translated as “Race First.” Some African American intellectuals, above all Du Bois, were more circumspect about the Irish. They were keenly aware of the antagonism that for generations had marked the relationships between blacks and Irish immigrants in the United States. And yet even for Du Bois “Bleeding Ireland” became an irresistible symbol of the human capacity for suffering and regeneration.

Keywords:   Ireland, Irish nationalism, Afro-Caribbeans, African Americans, intellectuals, activists, Irish Revolution, Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin, Irish Republican Brotherhood

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