In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America is a documentary focused on Mr. Hume, the Irish former politician from Derry, Northern Ireland, who was a co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Price and visited Atlanta several times to celebrate the life and ideals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
Shane Stephens, Ireland’s consul general for the Southeast who is based in Atlanta, told Global Atlanta that Mr. Hume was the “moral architect” of the peace process that brought to an end the 30 years of sectarian conflict in North Ireland, known as “The Troubles,” which claimed as many as 3,500 lives.
Mr. Stephens said that the film highlights Mr. Hume’s role in reaching the Good Friday agreement of 1998, but also underscores the role played by former U.S.Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major, among many other political figures of the day.
While the agreement has been responsible for easing tensions, the Brexit vote and Britain’s unsettled political situation provide concerns since the agreement was reached when the U.K.’s continued membership in the European Union was not an issue.
Although the changes under Brexit are simmering, the Name of Peace is meant primarily to resurrect the role played by Mr. Hume and his interaction with senior political figures in the U.S. and not to grapple with upcoming issues still to be resolved.
Mr. Hume is suffering from dementia, which has been revealed by his wife, Pat, in a recently published book titled John Hume — Irish Peacemaker. He no longer is able to speak broadly about his political career and his accomplishments have receded from the public consciousness.
Also the political party of which he was a founder, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, has suffered reversals further receding Mr. Hume’s legacy.
Maurice Fitzpatrick, the film maker, has toured the country with showings from Massachusetts where a panel discussion followed the filming with former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who was special envoy in the Northern Ireland negotiations, to California.
In public appearances and on panels following screenings, Mr. Fitzpatrick has said that the film highlights the positive ends that the U.S. under steady leadership and international cooperation can attain.
During his political heyday, Mr. Hume often cited Mr. King’s principles of non-violence as providing the principles on which the Northern Irish crisis should be resolved.
Following his Nobel Prize in 1998, he visited Atlanta the following year where he was given the 1999 Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize by Coretta Scott King, Mr. King’s widow, in the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Mr. Hume responded by saying “We believed in the world of Dr. Martin Luther King. We believed in inclusivity, not exclusivity. We believed that true unity among all Irish people was unity of the heart, not unity of the soil.”
During his career, he would draw parallels between the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland to blacks in the U.S. South.
Mr. Hume once also led a trade delegation to Atlanta at the invitation of local businessman Jim Gaffey in 2005 in an effort to promote investment around Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital. He also attended a seminar in 2005 organized by Betty Siegel, then president of Kennesaw State University, at Balliol College, Oxford University, focused on “global ethical leadership.”
The screening is to be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave., beginning at 4:30 p.m. The film will be followed by a panel discussion including Mary Ann Peters, chief executive officer of The Carter Center, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Stephens.
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