A foundation to promote the legacy of John Hume and his wife, Pat, has been launched today.
Foundation chairman Professor Seán Farren said the John and Pat Hume Foundation aims to “inspire the next generation of peacemakers…(and) to support our young people to navigate the profound challenges of their time”.
Patrons include former US senator George Mitchell, who chaired the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement, and former president of Ireland Mary McAleese.
It is based in Derry with events planned for Dublin, Brussels and Washington.
Next week Martin Luther King III will give its first lecture, Leadership for Peaceful Change, on 19 November.
John Hume Jr said its core principles are social and economic justice, self-help and education.
“There are a lot of very simple but important issues or messages that were very much part of dad’s political thinking that are as important today in the new world that we live in,” he said.
His father helped start the credit union movement in Ireland before becoming involved in civil rights and politics.
He said of his father’s many achievements: “The credit union was one of the greatest things he did because it pulled so many people out of poverty.
“The idea of the whole community helping itself was very much central to everything he set out to achieve,” he said.
The late Nobel Laureate, who died last summer after a long illness, started his professional life as a teacher.
His son said his father remained a firm believer in the “sheer power of education (to) transform society”.
John Hume’s wife Pat was instrumental to her husband’s achievements throughout his life and career, often supporting the family in the early days when he could not get work because of sectarian practises in Northern Irish schools.
During his successful political career as an MEP and MP she organised both his professional and personal affairs. The foundation is named after both John and Pat.
Their son said: “They were very much a team, they found inspiration and determination from each other and I don’t think dad would have achieved a fraction of what he did without mum behind him.”
Mr Hume early on identified the need for US politicians of good will to support peaceful democratic politics in Northern Ireland and reached out to them. As a result he enjoyed unrivalled access in Washington, especially among the Democrats.
That influence continues in the recent remarks by US President-Elect Joe Biden.
Of this, John Hume Jr said: “The fact that he is prepared to say that so openly and so prominently in his first days in office I think shows how much these prominent figures in America actually do care. It does matter to them.”