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As part of the Mary Ann McCracken 250 series of events Reclaim the Enlightenment are hosting this talk by Dr Brian Kelly.

The powerful re-mergence of a global Black Lives Matter movement has helped propel a timely debate on how Ireland can best confront its own complicated entanglement in transatlantic slavery. A bustling port city and an emerging industrial powerhouse, nineteenth-century Belfast was home both to an influential mercantile elite eager to share in the spoils and to an outspoken abolitionist element. Against the backdrop of rising tensions in the United States, the city hosted a number of successful visits by prominent antislavery orators, including the escaped slaves Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet. This lecture will explore the ways in which empire, social inequality and colonialism intersected in early nineteenth-century Ireland to shape the country’s relationship to slavery in the Atlantic world, and to situate Belfast’s complex legacy within these wider influences.


Brian Kelly is an award-winning historian of race and labour in the United States and a Reader in History at Queen’s University Belfast. Formerly director of the After Slavery Project, he has published widely on abolitionism and Atlantic world slave emancipation, on Irish immigration and the ‘race question’, and on racial antagonism and class politics in the 19th and 20th century United States.



Event information

• The Zoom meeting ID for this event is 86107736324 (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86107736324)

• Hosted by Reclaim the Enlightenment– for more information email reclaimtheenlightenment@gmail.com


About the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation
The Foundation was officially launch in 2021 to promote the life and times of this remarkable woman and to explore her legacy and relevance in the 21st century. The Foundation have, to date, republished Mary McNeill’s biography on Mary Ann McCracken, produced an historical map of Belfast, and recently award bursaries to Ulster University Masters Students.

You can support the ongoing work of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation here .

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For more information on the Foundation’s work and other events as part of Mary Ann 250 please click here