Cork's first ever youth-led Anti-Racism Summit takes place this month... 'listen to these young people... and act'

JOHN SMITH, CEO of Nano Nagle Place, says the upcoming youth-led Anti-Racism Summit at Cork City Hall on May 26 is a bold and courageous initiative and a great exercise in empowerment
Cork's first ever youth-led Anti-Racism Summit takes place this month... 'listen to these young people... and act'

John Smith, CEO of Nano Nagle Place.

CORK’S first ever youth-led Anti-Racism Summit will take place in the City Hall on May 26. This is a bold and courageous initiative, where young people are putting themselves front and centre, demanding that their voices are heard.

These young people are willing to speak about their experiences with racism, about their fears but also about their hopes for creating an anti-racist society.

This Summit stemmed from conversations sparked in 2020. As a response to the killing of George Floyd in 2020, the Cork Migrant Centre Youth Initiative Against Racism (CMCYIAR) was formed. In collaboration with Children and Young People Services Committee (CYPSC), an Anti-Racism webinar took place in June 2020, giving young people a platform to start a conversation against racism in Ireland.

This truly innovative webinar gave young people a chance to engage with frontline service providers, senior politicians, and policy makers. An important outcome of this webinar was a pledge by all in attendance to look for solutions towards positive change against racism in Ireland.

In 2023, these conversations have continued and grown into the first Youth-Led Anti-Racist Summit. What makes this event truly unique is that this is an exercise in radical collaboration.

There are many organisations and voices that have come together to make this Summit possible. Grassroots communities with the support of CYPSC Anti-Racist sub-group in Cork, Cork Migrant Centre (CMC), the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG), Cork City Council Social Inclusion Office and many others have rallied together to support the young people in organising this important event.

Another aspect of the authenticity of this Anti-Racism Summit is that it is youth-led. It is an exercise in agency and empowerment and highlights that when you create space and give those most affected by issues the space to speak and express their views; that’s when something real and powerful can rise to the surface.

This Anti-Racism Summit is also about accountability. When young people step forward and speak their truth, it is our collective and individual responsibility to actively listen. Those with influence and power who attended the 2020 webinar have committed to returning in-person, listening to the young people, and being held accountable for promises made to the CMCYIAR youth in 2020. It is incumbent on the duty-bearers present on the day, and those not there, to authentically listen to these young people and to act.

As CEO of Nano Nagle Place, I must do my part. 

The Nagle family motto was “deeds and not words”, a motto which all facets of our team work by. At Nano Nagle Place we share Nano Nagle’s inspirational story of providing education to poor Catholic children at a time when Penal Laws meant Catholic education was prohibited. We show how Nano challenged the convention of the day, how she saw social injustice and did something about it, but her story doesn’t end there… Nano Nagle Place is a place of living heritage, melding the past with the present. We aim to continue Nano’s mission of social justice begun in the 18th Century, into the 21st Century. This takes expression through our community education projects; the Lantern Project and Cork Migrant Centre (CMC). CMC is an essential social justice project within our tapestry. CMC’s work advocating on behalf of migrant children, families, and communities to ensure they have access to the services and supports is truly ground-breaking.

CMCYIAR’s Anti-Racism Summit is an expression of Nano Nagle’s courage, pioneering work and her legacy. 

If she were alive today, she would speak out on issues such as Anti-Racism. She would be proud of these young people, as all of us in Nano Nagle Place today certainly are.

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