Derry ’68: The International Perspective


  • Eamonn McCann


This article is an extract from the new Introduction to Eamonn McCann’s classic book War and an IrishTown, due to be republished shortly by Haymarket Books.

One of the loudest cheers I heard in the Bogside during the civil rights era came in response to the cry: ‘The whole black nation has to be put together as a black army, and we’re gonna walk on this nation, we’re gonna walk on this racist power structure and we’re gonna say to the whole damn government – “Stick ‘em up, motherfucker, we’ve come for what’s ours…”’

The declaration was the last item in the 10-point programme of the Black Panther Party (BPP), enunciated in rich, booming R&B tones on the soundtrack of a film projected against the gable which was later to become Free Derry Wall in the small hours of a riotous night.  The cheer, I think, had as much to do with the liberating daring of the language as with the sentiment of the slogan. But the reaction did signal the extent to which the young Bogsiders felt a connection, even a sense of fellow-feeling with the Panthers, then under murderous assault by the Feds and local police forces across the US.