Courage and creativity is needed to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland, the SDLP leader said.
Colum Eastwood urged his counterparts in other parties to display the spirit of the Civil Rights movement of 1968.
He addressed an event in Londonderry on Thursday, saying: “Just as in 1968, the job of this generation is to break free from the deadlock with which we are now faced.
“That will require the same level of courage and creativity and it will require the development of new movements and new momentums.
“At the heart of that challenge is the understanding that we may be a people divided by history but we can be a people united by our common rights.”
Mr Eastwood said Northern Ireland politics was immature.
He added: “The current stalemate and polarisation of our politics has returned the North to the familiar comfort of old battles, but it does nothing to solve our deeper problems.
“All of us should understand that we face too many challenges in this society to dwell in that comfort.
“You can’t deliver on civil rights if you don’t have a government.”
He said problems like economic inequality needed to be resolved alongside Irish language and LGBT rights.
“Only then will we have faithfully followed the journey which set out in 1968.
“Only then will we have truly overcome.”