What 150 years of Black and Irish solidarity looks like : Code Switch What's a portrait of Frederick Douglass doing hanging in an Irish-themed pub in Washington, D.C.? To get to the answer, Parker and Gene dive deep into the long history of solidarity and exchange between Black civil rights leaders and Irish republican activists, starting with Frederick Douglass' visit to Ireland in 1845.

The long, storied history of solidarity between Black and Irish activists

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

B A PARKER, HOST:

Hey, everyone. You're listening to CODE SWITCH. I'm B.A. Parker.

GENE DEMBY, HOST:

And I'm Gene Demby.

PARKER: So Gene...

DEMBY: What's up?

PARKER: When I last visited D.C., we grabbed this Uber together. Do you remember this?

DEMBY: Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm.

PARKER: There we go. Fun fact - did you know that the pan-African flag is - the green is for the Irish...

DEMBY: Are you serious?

PARKER: ...In solidarity with their struggle?

DEMBY: What? Did you just tell me a joke?

PARKER: That's - Marcus Garvey was interviewed in 1920, and he was like, it's black, red and green. The green is for Irish solidarity.

DEMBY: Yo...

I still cannot process this. Like, what - is that true, Parker? What?

PARKER: I - kind of, sort of - like, OK, the more common...

DEMBY: OK.

PARKER: ...Story about the green in that flag is that it symbolizes the natural fertility of Africa.

DEMBY: Right. That's what I heard.

PARKER: Right. But also, it makes sense why that story is compelling enough that we'd both believe it.

DEMBY: Huh.

PARKER: I mean, Garvey was known for his solidarity with Irish self-determination, and he was outspoken during the Irish War of Independence and often drew parallels between Irish freedom and Black freedom.

DEMBY: And Irish people have a reputation for solidarity with colonized people because they themselves were colonized by the Brits.

PARKER: And, look, in the context of where we were going in the Uber, it made sense.

We just walk? Where - is it this? Oh, it's right there. OK. Oh, we got 42 seconds.

DEMBY: So you took me to this Irish pub called Kelly's Irish Times. It's right near Union Station here in D.C., not that far from the NPR building, as a matter of fact.

PARKER: Give me your thirsty, your famished, your befuddled masses. OK.

DEMBY: Befuddled?

PARKER: Befuddled.

I was trying to find something that was mentioned in a book from the '90s called "Black And Green."

DEMBY: OK.

PARKER: And it's about the history of Black and Irish civil rights movements. And the author, Brian Dooley, wrote about seeing an unexpected picture up in that pub, and I wanted to see if it was still there.

DEMBY: There you go.

PARKER: There he is. Wait, there he goes. Gene, what are we looking at here?

DEMBY: We got a picture of Frederick Douglass - old-timey-looking, like, 1800s photo. He's kind of young here, too.

You brought me to an Irish pub to find Frederick Douglass - and a picture of Frederick Douglass that apparently has been up there for, like, decades?

PARKER: That's right, Gene.

DEMBY: OK. But how does that make sense, Parker?

PARKER: Well, OK, that's what I want to get into for this episode, Gene. Beyond and before Marcus Garvey, there's a long history of solidarity between activists and civil rights leaders in the U.S. and Ireland. And through that exchange, we can get a glimpse into how organizing gets more complicated across borders and race. And that history dates back to when Frederick Douglass toured Ireland in 1845.

DEMBY: Uh-huh.

PARKER: So we're going to get into it. Stay with us.

DEMBY: All right. So you were saying that Frederick Douglass toured Ireland in 1845. Can you say more about this, please?

PARKER: All right.

DEMBY: I am very curious.

PARKER: OK. Well, to get into it, I want to introduce you to Cecilia Hartsell.

CECILIA HARTSELL: My name is Cecilia Hartsell. I am a historian.

PARKER: Cecilia is from the U.S. and currently lives in Ireland, and she gives talks on African American history. And one of her areas of expertise is Frederick Douglass' visit to Ireland.

DEMBY: OK. But why was Frederick Douglass in Ireland to begin with?

PARKER: So in 1845, Douglass had just published his memoir, "Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass."

DEMBY: Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm. It was a call to action around abolition. It made Frederick Douglass, who was a fugitive from slavery, one of the most famous people in the United States.

PARKER: And that fame was dangerous.

DEMBY: OK.

PARKER: He knew he was at risk of being recaptured. By then, the British had legally abolished slavery, so fleeing across the pond made sense.

DEMBY: Right.

PARKER: So, you know, he did that.

HARTSELL: So he was in Dublin, Wexford, Limerick, up in Belfast.

DEMBY: All right. So Frederick Douglass - he's touring around Ireland, living free. But what was he doing when he was there? What was he doing in particular?

PARKER: He was giving a lot of talks.

HARTSELL: He spent a lot of time here talking about abolition, American churches' links to slavery.

PARKER: There were a lot of active anti-slavery societies on the British Isles turning their causes toward ending slavery in the U.S.

HARTSELL: African Americans who escaped from slavery became stars, if you will, on a circuit going over there to tell them what being enslaved was about. And Douglass was really the star of that circuit when he went over in 1845.

DEMBY: He's giving, like, TED Talks for Black freedom, basically.

PARKER: Basically. They were very receptive to him. In fact, it's through abolitionists in the U.K. that Douglass is able to purchase his own freedom. And there were Irish activists who had Douglass' attention, whose work got reported on in the States, like Daniel O'Connell.

HARTSELL: Douglass says that he first came across Daniel O'Connell by hearing his name cursed by his masters.

PARKER: O'Connell was known as The Liberator. He led and won the fight for Irish full citizenship in the 1830s.

HARTSELL: Daniel O'Connell was an Irish nationalist who was focused on Catholic emancipation. He wasn't so much about Ireland leaving the U.K. He was about Catholics being able to practice their religion, being able to inherit property, being able to serve in Parliament without being discriminated against.

PARKER: But that's not why slave owners in Maryland were cursing him. O'Connell was also an outspoken abolitionist, and he's been calling out the United States' hypocrisy for decades, even when it lost him popularity or funding.

HARTSELL: O'Connell would never shake the hand of a slaveholder if he knew him to be one, and he would never take a donation from a slaveholder saying he would never buy the freedom of Ireland with the price of slaves.

PARKER: Douglass really wanted to see O'Connell in action, so he dropped into a meeting he knew O'Connell would be speaking at. In one of Douglass' letters published in an abolitionist newspaper, he recapped the speech, writing...

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: (Reading) He said, with an earnestness which I shall never forget, I have been assailed for attacking the American institution, as it is called, Negro slavery. I am not ashamed of that attack. I do not shrink from it. I am the friend of liberty in every clime, class and color. My sympathy with distress is not confined within the narrow bounds of my own green island. No, it extends itself to every corner of the earth.

PARKER: Douglass wrote a lot about how impressed he was with O'Connell's speaking.

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: (Reading) I have heard many speakers within the last four years, but I confess, I have never heard one by whom I was more completely captivated than by Mr. O'Connell.

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PARKER: According to his letter, he wasn't planning on introducing himself, but while he was lingering around hoping to get closer, Douglass' friend got him an introduction, and that was the one night the two men met. Douglass was 27, and O'Connell was 70. Now, O'Connell died two years after. And even though they only met in person once, O'Connell had already shifted Douglass' worldview.

DEMBY: OK, but how so?

PARKER: Well, Douglass was there at the start of the Great Famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852.

DEMBY: So, I guess we should probably give an explanatory comma here. This is what a lot of us know in the states as the potato famine, when about a million people in Ireland died of starvation or disease, and that kicked off a half-century wave of Irish folks immigrating to the United States by the millions.

PARKER: And the famine wasn't just about crop failure. It was the result of oppressive colonial policies. Irish folk were still growing crops. But since the British controlled the farmland and housing, the Irish couldn't feed themselves. Their crops had to be shipped out to Britain and the rest of the empire in order to stay housed. There was stark poverty across Ireland that Douglass wrote about in an 1846 letter.

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: (Reading) I see much here to remind me of my former condition. He who really and truly feels for the American slave cannot steel his heart to the woes of others. And he who thinks himself an abolitionist yet cannot enter into the wrongs of others has yet to find a true foundation for his anti-slavery faith.

DEMBY: It's kind of like that Audre Lorde quote. But - and it goes like, I'm not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.

PARKER: Exactly. Oh, my gosh. We love Gene, the womanist.

HARTSELL: I think seeing the poverty here - I think it broadened his understanding that, yes, things were horrible for African Americans in America. But there were chains of suffering that linked people in Ireland to African Americans as well.

PARKER: So Douglass was in the U.K. for about 19 months. When he prepared to leave Britain in 1847, he quoted O'Connell in a speech called "Farewell To The British People."

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: (Reading) O'Connell once said, speaking of Ireland, how truly or falsely that her history may be traced like the track of a wounded man through a crowd. This description can be given of Ireland. How much more true is it when applied to the sons and daughters of Africa in the United States? Their history is nothing but blood, blood, blood.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: Yeah. That's why Frederick Douglass might be up on the wall of an Irish pub in the U.S. for decades.

DEMBY: OK, OK, OK. Fine. But back to that bar in D.C., we should probably say that it's a cop bar - like, a really coppy (ph) cop bar.

PARKER: Yeah.

DEMBY: The walls were plastered with police badges. There were a bunch of doors to police cars on display, and those doors were covered in signatures. I'm presuming that those are the signatures of cops.

PARKER: Oh, I looked it up. They were definitely cops and FBI agents and all kinds of law enforcement.

DEMBY: OK, OK. But that portrait is a salute to Frederick Douglass, you know, for his solidarity with Ireland. But Irish American cops, you know, who came to dominate policing in a lot of big cities like the ones that you and I grew up in - they were smack in the middle of a more contentious history between Irish Americans and Black Americans here in the U.S.

PARKER: Uh-huh. And when we come back, we're going to fast-forward to the 1960s when a young Irish activist runs into exactly that. Stay with us.

Heads up - This section contains depictions of violence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: Parker.

DEMBY: Gene.

PARKER: CODE SWITCH.

DEMBY: All right. So Parker, you've been leading me down this rabbit hole about how a visit Frederick Douglass took to Ireland in 1845 sparked this whole history of solidarity and exchange between Black activists here in the United States and Irish Republican activists, both of whom were fighting, you know, in very different contexts for self-determination.

PARKER: So, all right, we're moving to the 1900s after the Republic of Ireland won its independence and Northern Ireland was established as part of the United Kingdom.

DEMBY: OK. My seat is pulled up. I got my chin in my hands. Let's go.

PARKER: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: In 1969, a young member of Parliament from Northern Ireland named Bernadette Devlin came to the U.S. on a highly publicized tour, and she was 21 and considered a bit of a rabble rouser. One of her opponents called her Fidel Castro in a miniskirt.

DEMBY: I mean, that's one of those things that's clearly meant to be an insult, but I feel like a lot of people would take it as a compliment.

PARKER: I mean, so yeah, kind of like Douglass in the 1840s, Devlin came to the U.S. to get support for the Irish and the plight they were facing back in Ireland. This was at the start of a time we now know as The Troubles.

DEMBY: I guess maybe this is an explanatory coma.

PARKER: I think so.

DEMBY: Let's do an explanatory comma. The Troubles was this period between the 1960s and the 1990s when Irish Nationalists and Irish Republicans were fighting for Northern Ireland to be a country that was independent from the United Kingdom.

PARKER: Yeah. And the British government condemned the Irish fighting for independence as terrorists and used force to quell any protests.

DEMBY: Yeah. And we should say, like, and be really clear here, The Troubles, if you don't know, were really, really ugly. Like, there was this infamous Bloody Sunday Massacre in 1972, when these British soldiers who were stationed in Ireland shot dozens of unarmed Irish protesters. Some of the radical Irish nationalist groups carried out bombings that killed other Irish civilians, which was controversial stuff even among, you know, their fellow nationalists who wanted the British gone. And these bombings are part of where those terrorism accusations come from.

PARKER: Right. And a lot of the time, that conflict is oversimplified as an issue between Catholics and Protestants. But it had very little to do with religion, actually. The Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland were fighting against things like hiring discrimination, disenfranchisement, housing discrimination, police brutality, you know, sound familiar?

DEMBY: Yeah. Just a little bit. Just a little bit.

PARKER: Devlin also wanted American citizens to know how they were complicit in what was happening to the people in Northern Ireland. Here she is on "Meet The Press" during that 1969 visit.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

BERNADETTE DEVLIN: I think that America should realize that America supplies the guns to the British government, who supply the arms to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who supply the arms to the B Specials who shoot people in Northern Ireland with it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: I mean that framing, you know, that America is supplying an occupying force overseas, that has some contemporary residences. But back then, how did people here in the United States react to the case that she was making?

PARKER: Well, Devlin was trying to court Irish American support and was surprised at the friction she was running up against, specifically their hostility towards Black people.

DEMBY: OK.

PARKER: Like Frederick Douglass and Daniel O'connell, Devlin thought that there was obvious similarity between her experience as a Northern Irish Catholic and Black struggles in the U.S. She wrote that solidarity into her speeches. She visited Black Panther chapters. Later in life, she'd befriend Angela Davis. At one of her events in Detroit, she reportedly refused to speak until the Black folks in line were let in because, you know, it's 1969.

DEMBY: Yeah. Right, right, right.

PARKER: Meanwhile, Devlin thought she'd find solidarity with the Irish immigrants that had come to the U.S. after the great famine through the early 20th century, because they've come to America, were oppressed themselves and faced discrimination in the U.S. But there wasn't, really.

DEMBY: Right. And throughout the 20th century, there's this idea - I was thinking about this historian at Harvard. His name is Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and he's written a lot about the history of policing in America. And he said that policing was central to the way Irish people went from something of a pariah class in the United States to folding into this broader tapestry of American whiteness, like, securing police jobs in cities like New York and Philly and Chicago and your hometown of Baltimore. It created this pathway for patronage, for building, you know, local political influence.

And over time, that allowed Irish people in the United States to shed this, you know, dubious reputation for criminality, you know, because they were now the agents of law and order. But becoming cops also meant that those same Irish Americans were often, like, enforcing the social control of Black folks in those same cities.

PARKER: I think that's what's bugging me, because there was this window to maybe organize and see their situations as similar. Instead, a lot of the Irish in America did this thing where they found encouragement and opportunity in separating themselves from Black people. And I mean, I'm not the only one disappointed. Devlin was so disheartened by the rhetoric of a lot of the Irish Americans she encountered, she decided to show them how she really felt about their behavior.

DEMBY: OK. What did she do?

PARKER: All right. Well, the mayor of New York had given Devlin a key to the city as a way to honor the work she'd done in support of Irish Catholics.

DEMBY: OK.

PARKER: And in 1970...

HERBERT DAUGHTRY SR: Bernadette was given an award by the mayor, and she gave it to the Black Panther party.

PARKER: You heard that right. She turned around and regifted the key to the Harlem chapter of the Black Panthers with the message, quote, "to all these people to whom this city and this country belong, I returned what is rightfully theirs - this symbol of the freedom of New York," end quote.

DEMBY: Oh, wow. I mean, I don't know what the Black Panthers would want with the key to the city, but I kind of get the symbolism she's going for. But Parker, whose voice was that that we just heard?

PARKER: That's Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Sr. He's a Black civil rights activist and the founder of the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, where he grew up. He's worked with Reverend Jesse Jackson. He was the spiritual adviser to Tupac.

DEMBY: What? This sounds like the kind of cat we should all know about. Like, he's hanging out in the background of every photo of the last 50 years.

PARKER: This man has lived a life. He's 93 now, and activism has been his life's work. And he has this slogan.

DAUGHTRY: Save the planet, save the people.

PARKER: And Reverend Daughtry is part of the next iteration of this exchange between Irish and Black activists. In 1983, the reverend was invited to visit Northern Ireland with a small group of Black activists and artists to bear witness to the Catholic struggles during the troubles. It was captured in the documentary, "The Black And The Green", by the late filmmaker St. Clair Bourne.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE BLACK AND THE GREEN")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You know, this is a thing that us in the Republican movement - we don't think that they add up - things that are splitting the people.

DAUGHTRY: It's critical now. If there were ever a time that people of goodwill...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Needed each other?...

DAUGHTRY: ... Aggressive people - right, needed each other. You know, now is the time. Because if we don't find each other, these people who constitute the rulership of the United States and the other Western countries are going to blow up the world.

PARKER: Full disclosure, Gene, this documentary is what led me down this path in the first place. And you just heard Daughtry's voice in that film.

DEMBY: Huh, OK. So why was Reverend Daughtry invited to Northern Ireland?

PARKER: Well, Reverend Daughtry was a co-founder of the National Black United Front, which focused on being radical leftist Pan African Christians, which is a vibe. He gained notoriety in the 1970s for leading protests after the assault of several young, Black teenagers in downtown Brooklyn. And Irish Republican organizers took notice. Daughtry was also organizing in solidarity with the Irish struggle. In 1981, there were the hunger strikes in Ireland carried out by Irish Republican paramilitary leaders imprisoned in Northern Ireland.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: They were striking against Margaret Thatcher's government, revoking their status as, essentially, prisoners of war. And Reverend Daughtry remembers it being part of the larger movement.

DAUGHTRY: Basically, the hunger strikers were separately demanding the independence from Britain. And they had been at it 800 years, they say.

PARKER: Ultimately, 10 prisoners died of starvation. And one of them, Bobby Sands, was an elected member of Parliament at the time.

DAUGHTRY: I spoke with the memorial for Bobby Sands, who was the leader of the hunger strikers who died in prison and became close to the Irish struggle.

PARKER: The second hunger strike drew support from all over the world, and Irish Republicans gained political power and agency. Irish Republicans, IRA members and reps for Sinn Fein, which is an Irish Republican political party, were the ones who reached out to these Black American activists. In part because they admired what the Civil Rights Movement did in the United States. And while Daughtry and his fellow activists ended up accepting the invitation to go to Ireland, they were a little hesitant based on their interactions with Irish Americans in the States.

DEMBY: OK, so that's kind of the flip side of Devlin's experience in the States.

PARKER: Yeah. And it's something they were having a hard time reconciling. Like, in Ireland, the Irish were the oppressed. But in the U. S., towards Black people, the Irish were members of the oppressors.

DEMBY: Yeah, people in the U. S. can kind of get caught up in the mechanics of how race and power work here in the U. S. But we sometimes forget that, you know, those mechanics don't really map onto the rest of the world, and that this works very differently elsewhere.

PARKER: Yeah. And on Reverend Daughtry's way to Ireland, he had a layover in London. And he had found himself chatting with a British theologian who assumed Daughtry was on a missionary trip.

DAUGHTRY: He said, you're going up there to try to convert them? And we all looked at disdain, all looked at disgust and the contempt that is usually reserved for us.

PARKER: Before he even got to the island, Reverend Daughtry started to experience and understand those foreign dynamics.

DAUGHTRY: It kind of blew my mind, you know? Because here's this white dude, now he included me in his group against some other white folks (laughter), you know?

PARKER: Once he landed, Reverend Daughtry said that being in parts of Northern Ireland felt like being back home. He could so clearly see his experience as a Black person in the U. S., within the streets of Belfast.

DEMBY: Sort of like what Frederick Douglass was saying, like a century-and-a-half before when he said, you know, I see much here to remind me of my former condition.

PARKER: Exactly.

DAUGHTRY: So it was an economic oppression, economic exploitation. People tried to confine it to religions and Roman Catholics, but it was a people that were being treated that way.

PARKER: Daughtry was also struck by how present violence was in every part of their journey, from the rubbled aftermath they witnessed in some neighborhoods to the recent histories of where they slept.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAUGHTRY: So, here in Belfast, they just put me up in a home with a family. And it so happened that the family that they put me with was a family who had experienced the brunt of British oppression.

PARKER: Reverend Daughtry stayed in the house of a woman named Suzanne Bunting. Her husband was a man named Ronnie Bunting, a leader in the Irish National Liberation Army, a group that waged a very personal war against the British Army and the police force in Northern Ireland.

DAUGHTRY: They had hatchet knocked down the door - the British - to get to her house. Her husband had been killed - shot nine times. Two of his friends in the next room was killed. She was shot four times. And her daughter had to crawl over the bodies to get to the neighbors to tell them what had happened. And that's where I stayed.

PARKER: This happened just three years prior to Daughtry's visit.

DEMBY: That's one of the sticky things about this history, right? Like, of course, there's this awful violent oppression the U.K.'s enacting on the people of Northern Ireland. And at the same time, the IRA is notorious for its violence. Like, there was a time in big British cities where you couldn't find trash cans in public because that was a place that the IRA would sometimes stash bombs. They blew up buses in London, right? It was scary.

PARKER: Yeah. The group of activists Daughtry traveled with were also more of the nonviolent type. Some were even mentees of Martin Luther King Jr. But the longer the trip went, the more these activists were becoming unsure of that nonviolent stance. In fact, Reverend Daughtry is heard in the documentary saying, quote, "I don't believe there is any such thing as nonviolent change. What we tend to call the nonviolent '60s wasn't very nonviolent at all. The question isn't one of nonviolence. The question is who's going to receive the violence and whether there will be reciprocity," end quote.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: So Parker, what did Daughtry end up getting out of this visit to Ireland?

PARKER: Well, like what we heard from Frederick Douglass after his visit to Ireland, Reverend Daughtry talked about this ability to see the oppression that's not just outside our front door. It's what Reverend Daughtry kept telling me during our interview - his mission statement for the past 60-odd years - save the planet, save the people.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAUGHTRY: Freedom to the oppressed, to the captives of the oppressed - to heal the sick, to open the blind eyes. That has been the priority - is the least of these - the working to bring quality of life to the world's masses - well, not to neglect the rich but to prioritize the poor.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: And the legacy of that solidarity is something we're seeing in activism today.

DEMBY: Right. Like, you see organizers associated with the movement for Black lives or the Indigenous activists in the LandBack movement - you know, tying their cause pretty explicitly to those of Palestinians, as one example.

PARKER: Right. In November 2023, over a thousand Black pastors in the U.S. called on President Biden to take action towards a cease-fire in Gaza. One of those pastors is Reverend Daughtry's daughter, Bishop Leah Daughtry. Here she is talking to Joy Reid on MSNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEAH DAUGHTRY: 'Cause it's people of faith. It's people of conscience. And given the call and who we purport to serve - that is creator God - we could not stand by and watch the horror that is taking place in Gaza and in Israel as innocent lives are being decimated.

PARKER: And across the pond, activists and politicians from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have been leading the way in calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. In January of 2024, there was a march in Dublin. One of the speakers was none other than Bernadette Devlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DEVLIN: My generation knows what oppression was like. We know what it was like...

(APPLAUSE)

DEVLIN: ...For a whole community to be defined as guilty.

PARKER: Now in her 70s, Bernadette is still fighting the good fight.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DEVLIN: Nothing that compares with what the people of Gaza have to endure. But the generations before us on this side of the border know what it was like to be an oppressed nation.

DEMBY: So I remember last fall there was this Israeli minister who said that Palestinians should, quote, "go to Ireland or the deserts." And at the time, I was like, OK, he's just pulling some random country out of his a** - right? - like the way Bugs Bunny tells people to go to Timbuktu. And then I learned about this longer shared history between the Irish and the Palestinians because both of them were colonies of the same British Empire.

There's this dude, Lord Arthur Balfour, who was the prime minister of the U.K. He was the foreign secretary of the U.K. at different points in his career. But he was nicknamed Bloody Balfour for how violently he oppressed the Irish and their calls for freedom. And Balfour is also the namesake of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the state of Israel and Palestine.

So you fast-forward all these decades later, and maybe it's unsurprising that Ireland was the first European Union member to call for the creation of a Palestinian state. That was way back in 1980. It was one of the first countries in the EU to demand a cease-fire in Gaza last fall. And Ireland is set to join South Africa's genocide case against Israel in the World Court.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: You know, I think about this journey we've been on, learning about the history of the solidarity, and it's about so much more than finding it super interesting. I mean, frankly, Gene, this story gives me hope.

DEMBY: Can you say more about that?

PARKER: Well, it's shown me what looking out for one another can actually look like. It can look like supporting abolition. It can look like providing aid. It can look like advocating for people who can't speak for themselves at the moment. It can look like literally liberating the oppressed.

DEMBY: Yeah, it kind of makes me think of that Audre Lorde quote we talked about earlier and, you know, the false trap of a singular struggle. Any opportunity we have to underline that point is the opportunity we should take. And also, to the extent that it's a singular struggle, it's because of the British Empire.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: And that's our show. You can follow us on Instagram @nprcodeswitch. If email is more your thing, ours is codeswitch@npr.org. And subscribe to the podcast on the NPR app or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also subscribe to the CODE SWITCH newsletter by going to npr.org/codeswitchnewsletter.

DEMBY: And another way to support our work here is to sign up for CODE SWITCH+. It's small, but it makes a real big difference for us. And you'll get to listen to every CODE SWITCH episode without any ads. You can check it out at plus.npr.org/codeswitch. And thanks to everyone who already signed up.

PARKER: This episode was produced by Jess Kung. It was edited by Dalia Mortada. And a big shout-out to the rest of the CODE SWITCH massive - Christina Cala, Xavier Lopez, Leah Donnella, Veralyn Williams and Lori Lizarraga. And special thanks to our Frederick Douglass, Sayit Tejan-Thomas (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKER: I'm B.A. Parker.

DEMBY: I'm Gene Demby.

PARKER: Hydrate.

DEMBY: Be easy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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