The organizers of the Milwaukee Irish Fest are hosting a virtual cultural event to celebrate the connection between Irish-Americans and African Americans. 

CelticMKE will host a free virtual symposium on Saturday, January 16, which begins at 1 p.m. EST and features four presentations focusing on the similarities between Irish and African American experiences. 

Audience members will have the opportunity to engage with experts after they finish their presentation through a live Q&A at the end of each lecture. 

The event will be live on CelticMKE's YouTube channel here.

Kevin Byrne, the Irish Consulate General of Chicago, will kick off the symposium, while the introduction will also feature a message from Nettie Washington Douglass, a direct descendent of iconic abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Dr. Christine Kinealy, a professor of history and Irish studies at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, will then kick off the presentations with a discussion about ten famous abolitionists who visited Ireland. 

Kinealy is an authority on Irish history and will be drawing on her new book, "Black Abolitionists in Ireland", to deliver her presentation on Saturday. The presentation will be moderated by Dennis Brownlee of the African American Irish Diaspora Network. 

Kinealy's lecture will be followed by Gerard Moran and Robert Smith's discussion on Irish emigration.

Fredrick Douglas pictured on the right.

Fredrick Douglas pictured on the right.

Moran, a NUI Galway lecturer with expertise in the Irish diaspora and emigration, and Smith, who is the resident historian for America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, will tell the story of Irish emigration in their "Leaving Home for a Better Life" lecture. 

The third presentation of the symposium will focus on John Hume and John Lewis, heroes of the Irish and African American civil rights movements who died in 2020. 

"Equal Heroes" will be delivered by David Greenberg, who serves as a History and of Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University, and Tim McMahon, an associate professor of history at Marquette University in Milwaukee. 

The final presentation of the day will focus on the complex relationship between Irish and African American music and dance in the United States. 

"Two Roads Diverged" by New York University's Mick Moloney and Leni Sloan of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Monument Project will provide insights into Irish and American music in the United States. 

Meanwhile, CelticMKE and the UWM Center for Celtic Studies are also presenting their annual Chuck Ward Memorial Lecture, which will premiere on the CelticMKE YouTube channel at 8 p.m. EST on January 14. 

"Frederick Douglass and His Songs of Resistance" by Dr. Christine Kinealy will examine Douglass's love for music. 

For more details about the lectures, visit CelticMKE's website. 

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