February 19, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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Frederick Douglass

Senator Ed Reilly
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February 6, 2018

Maryland has an incredibly rich African-American history, which is now being recognized after so many centuries of being ignored. This year, we have the honor of celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of noted abolitionist, preacher, orator and statesman Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in Talbot County in 1818. The exact date of his birthday was never known, so he adopted February 14 for his date of birth. At the age of 20, he escaped from slavery, making his way to New York then on to Massachusetts where he began his work to abolish slavery. He did return to the Washington D.C. area to continue his work, living in his home, Cedar Hill, in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

I could give you a wonderful report of the life of Frederick Douglass, but instead I want to challenge you to learn about this great American by visiting his many historic sites here in Maryland and Washington D.C.

Easton will host an event on Wednesday, February 14, the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birthday. At noon, there will be a memorial wreath laying ceremony at the Frederick Douglass statue. This event will include many of Douglass’ family members, as well as other guest speakers. A Senate Joint Resolution (SJ6) “Commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass” will be read by state Senator Addie Eckert, who represents the Talbot County area of the Eastern Shore. The next day, February 15, the Talbot County Free Library will host “Lunch and Learn about Frederick Douglass Bicentennial,” which will start at noon. On May 17, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, the Avalon Theatre in Easton will present a free performance by Fred Morsell, a renowned Frederick Douglass re-enactor.

Less than an hour’s drive from Severna Park is the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia. This historic site is Cedar Hill, where he lived from 1878 until his death in 1895. On Saturday, February 17, starting at 10:30am, the bicentennial celebration of his birth will kick off at Cedar Hill. Learn more about this and other events by visiting www.nps.gov/frdo/index.htm.

Baltimore is also honoring Frederick Douglass. Near the intersection of Dallas Street and Douglass Place in Fells Point is a property that Douglass purchased and where he built five homes known as Douglass Place. These homes were rented out specifically to African-American residents. Also, Fells Point is home to the Strawberry Alley Methodist Church where Douglass worshipped. Other places of note to visit are President Street Station, where Douglass may have passed through when he was on his Underground Railroad journey, Lancaster Street where Douglass worked as a shipbuilder, and 28 Thames Street in Fells Point, where Douglass purchased the first book he ever owned. The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum, which includes the Frederick Douglass sculpture at the Maritime Park in Fells Point, can also be visited. Several museums will have special exhibits pertaining to Frederick Douglass. These include the Maryland Historical Society, the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture. There is also a one-hour walking tour called the Frederick Douglass Path to Freedom Walking Tour. Reservations are required for this tour, and can be made by calling 443-983-7974.

From the Eastern Shore to Baltimore and Washington D.C., this great man will be honored this year as Maryland celebrates the bicentennial of his birth. We are so fortunate to live where we do, and I encourage you to enjoy a day trip to learn more and honor this great American, Frederick Douglass.


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