Jennings jpg

Immigration policy discussion at Great Hunger Museum

Caption with Jennings jpg: Kevin Jennings, president of the Tenement Museum in New York City. Photo courtesy of the Tenement Museum.


By Irish Echo Staff

Kevin Jennings, president of the Tenement Museum in New York City, and a former assistant deputy secretary of education under former President Obama, will present the lecture, “Excluding Newcomers is a Tradition as Old as the Republic,” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

“The United States has always had a love-hate relationship with immigration,” said Jennings, who will trace the history of immigration and attitudes towards it, showing that America’s complicated relationship with the subject far predates today’s headlines.

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The Tenement Museum tells the uniquely American stories of immigrants, migrants and refugees in the ongoing creation of the nation. Jennings has been president since 2017. From 2009-11, he served as assistant deputy secretary for safe and drug-free schools in the Obama administration.

He began his career as a high school history teacher and, in 1988, created the first high school-based Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club, leading him to found and lead the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). He also has served as executive director of the Arcus Foundation, a leading international funder of conservation and human rights work.

Jennings has published seven books, produced three films, and holds degrees from Harvard, Columbia and NYU.

Said a release: “At a time when immigration is at the center of our national conversation, the Tenement Museum is more relevant than ever.

“Since 1988, the museum has forged emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present, through educator-led tours of its historic tenement buildings at 97 and 103 Orchard and the surrounding neighborhood, enhancing appreciation for the vital role immigrants play in shaping the American identity. The museum now aims to use every medium at its disposal to dramatically increase the impact of its programming - reaching millions - with its message of how immigrants built and continue to build America.”

The Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, stated the release, is home to the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine.

“The museum preserves, builds and presents its art collection to stimulate reflection, inspire imagination and advance awareness of Ireland's Great Hunger and its long aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic. The museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $5 for the general public, and free to Quinnipiac students and museum members.”

The museum is at 3011 Whitney Ave. To register for Jennings event, which costs $5 for the general public and is free to all students and museum members, go to