A GROUP of 60 prominent Irish-Americans have written a letter expressing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and urged the boycott of 'Irish Lives Matter' products.
The letter-- which includes Ambassadors, judges and members of the US Congress as signatories-- was written by Joe Crowley to Representative Karen Bass offering the group's condolences on the passing on human rights activist John Lewis.
"John Lewis is well remembered by our Irish American community for his staunch support for the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and all through the Troubles," the letter reads.
John Lewis’s impact extended far beyond America’s shores. His example inspired civil rights activists in Northern Ireland where, six years ago, he joined another remarkable John crossing the Peace Bridge in Derry. His legacy on our island is a great one. He will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/3L9Z1OeXmT
— Embassy of Ireland USA (@IrelandEmbUSA) July 18, 2020
"As Irish American leaders we have worked for decades to support the American civil rights movement going as far back as the great 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington," it continues, adding that many of the signatories joined John Lewis in his final visit to Dublin and Derry in 2014.
Irish America "still has much to learn about the depths of discrimination faced by our African American brothers and sisters", the signatories say, "And we have our own history of racial prejudice that we must examine and acknowledge."
The letter, seen by Irish Times journalist Suzanne Lynch, goes on to urge "the great institutions of Irish America", including colleges and universities, to put a stop to the "institutional racism that has plagued this nation" and acknowledge their own role in it.
Irish Studies programmes should explore the links, "both good and bad, of the Irish and African American experience in America", former Congressman Joe Crowley writes, and young Irish Americans should "make 'good trouble' to overcome injustice".
Regarding the sale of controversial 'Irish Lives Matter' t-shirts, the signatories say they have joined the protest against "wrongheaded" Walmart, Amazon and other retailers who are selling the product.
"While some may try to excuse such tee shirts as merely an exhibition of ethnic pride, we believe that at best they are tone deaf and insensitive, and at worst a deliberate, cynical attempt to trivialize, diminish or denigrate the BLM.
"We urge Irish Americans to boycott these sales."
"Irish America cannot remain comfortably on the sidelines as America seeks to finally put an end to the racial discrimination that has haunted our country."