Personal tribute from Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh


It was with profound grief than I learnt from another civil rights veteran of the passing of Mrs. Sadie Campbell, earlier to-day, Sat. 4th September. I immediately spend a few hours notifying local media and all within the Derry & N-West Civil Rights Network, of which I am the co-ordinator. All shared my sorrow and thanked me for notifying them so that they can pay their last respects at her home in Quarry Street, in the Brandywell district of Derry.



Sadie, although up in years remained alert and articulate and, as was her due, she was one of the first to be presented to Her Excellency, Mrs. Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland who graced us with a visit in October 2008 to mark the 40th anniversary of that historic year 1968. The President had arrived to speak at a commemorative event in Derry's Guildhall. Sadie was also earlier honored by the Nicra vets when she was presented with a specially engraved vase, bearing her name and the dates when she resided at Springtown Camp. Sadie that day spoke to those who were attending a commemorative womens' conference held in Armagh City Hotel.

No one can ever write the history of the struggle for civil rights in our native city without mentioning Sadie, who is much more than a footnote in the struggle for human rights and civil liberties. Alongside the late Bridget Bond, a tireless campaigner within the Derry Housing Action Committee, of which I was hon. secretary, Sadie can be compared to the late Rosa Parkes whose refusal to sit at the back of a segregated bus sparked off the struggle for civil rights in the USA. Indeed we were Ulster's White Negroes, and Springtown Camp was there to remained us on a daily basis of that status. Sadie, you were and will always remain a working-class hero who took a stand when others advised caution, bending the knee and taking stances similar to that adopted by the three "wise" monkeys. May you rest in peace sister. As Mary Ellen, my own late "Mother of Civil Rights" (1908-2007) once wrote, "Like the beauty and loveliness of the seasons, kind hearts always leave the world a better place for us".