Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Frederick Douglass on RTE

UPDATE: Colleen Dube of the Fulbright Commission has let me know that it wasn't just the funding for the conference that was cut (as I initially thought), but their entire budget. She wrote, "State Dept has cut our entire budget by 5% not just the conference which has ramifications for all our awards and activities this year. With the currency exchange in real terms the cut amounts to 10%."  Needless to say, that is pretty drastic and affects employment and opportunities for scholars and staff.
Some months ago -- probably a year on their end of the planning -- the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and University College Cork planned a small, two day conference on Frederick Douglass. The idea is not as far-fetched as you may think, since Douglass spent a lovely three weeks in Cork during October 1845. For this conference, I was asked to give a paper on Douglass, and planned to present "Dirty, Sexy, Abolition: The Frederick Douglass - Julia Griffiths Scandal," which I had presented at the BrANCH conference at Cambridge last fall.

About two weeks ago, the State Department, under which the Fulbright Commission falls, cut the funding for the conference, much to everyone's chagrin. As an alternative, Colleen Dube, who runs the Fulbright office here in Dublin (which must be an unenviable task), passed on my name to Bernadette Comerford and Myles Dungan, producer and presenter of the History Show on RTE1, the national radio station in Ireland. Bernadette contacted me, I sent her my paper, and -- long story short -- Myles interviewed me about Douglass and Julia Griffiths for a segment of the show that aired this past Sunday, February 25, 2012. They even brought in African American actor Hope Brown to read selections of Douglass's work.

Isn't that cool? The whole experience was quite fun, and Bernadette and Myles were wonderful hosts.

This is the link to a podcast of the radio show. My segment begins at about 19:25, although the graveyard segment before and Percy Shelley segment after are quite fascinating, too.: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast/podcast_thehistoryshow.xml

Me and Myles Dungan in the studio:

(In the spirit of ladies' antislavery societies in Ireland, I am wearing a scarf that I myself knitted out of Aran wool.)

Douglas Egerton will also appear on the show later in the month to discuss African American service in the Civil War, which he had also planned to present at the conference and which is the subject of his upcoming book on African Americans during Reconstruction.

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