The memories of two of President Barack Obama's heroes have been commemorated ahead of
his much anticipated visit to Ireland. The Irish Times reports that Nettie Douglass, great-great-granddaughter of American abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, recently laid a wreath at Daniel O'Connell's crypt in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery with her son at her side. Obama has openly talked about his admiration for the Irishman who staunchly opposed slavery and worked tirelessly for Catholic emancipation in Ireland.
Obama has also publicly revered Douglass, an escaped slave who became the face of the abolitionist movement in the years leading up to the Civil War. Douglass had travelled to Ireland and England in order to publicize the release of his autobiography Narrative of a Life of an American Slave.
In his book Douglass mentioned how two Irishmen had encouraged him to run away, a moment that exemplified the commonalities shared between black slaves and Irish immigrants in the Antebellum era. Douglass later commented that his stay in Ireland defined him "not as a colour, but as a man."
Douglass met O'Connell at a rally in Dublin, ironically resembling a proposed rally that Obama had been rumored to attend upon his arrival in Ireland later this month. The Times adds that Douglass admired O'Connell's vehement opposition of slavery and also his refusal "to shake hands with slave owners."
Ms Douglass symbolically met with O'Connell's great-great-granddaughter, effectively perpetuating the common bonds that both of their ancestors shared. Ms Douglass concluded her visit by thanking all the Irish who had helped her famous ancestor to "feel human" for the first time.