Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Banners in Fells Point; program Thursday, May 24 @ 1:00 pm at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum (1417 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231)


Looking down Thames Street. Photo by Preservation Society of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point

On Thursday, May 24th an event organized by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office and the Preservation Society of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point will officially announce the installation of Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Banners throughout the Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland.

Historic Fells Point is where a young Frederick Bailey ran with the “Point Boys,” purchased The Colombian Orator from radical bookseller Nathaniel Knight, worked the docks, attended church, possibly taught nigh school and fled from slavery.

The program begins at 1:00 pm at the

Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum.

1417 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231 / (410) 685-0295

Hope to see you there!


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Thank you Rochester Historical Society for uplifting and guarding local history. (Cc: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren & Monroe County Executive Cheryl L. Dinolfo)

William Keeler of RHS.Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Rochester Historical Society and speak with hybrid historian-librarian-archivist William Keeler.

During my visit I reviewed materials related to the life and times of Frederick Douglass in Rochester.

In speaking with Bill I learned the Rochester Historical Society is in the midst of a letter-writing campaign to both Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) and Monroe County Executive Cheryl L. Dinolfo (R). I gladly signed the letter using both my DC address and Monroe County address.

It is my understanding there have been ups and downs with the RHS over the years, much like the Historical Society of Washington, regarding collections, location and leadership.

Nonetheless, any and every Douglassonian should take notice of the appeal by the RHS and offer their support of an institution of vital import to the field of Douglass Studies.

It is my belief, no true scholar can begin to understand Douglass until you understand the communities in which he occupied space from the Eastern Shore to Fells Point to New Bedford to Rochester to Old Anacostia.

Thusly, although small in numbers Douglassonian scholars must do what we can, even if that is as simple as affixing our signature to a letter, to support local institutions.

In future posts I plan to share some of the material I discovered with Bill’s assistance.

The surveying of Rochester continues today with a meeting with an old school journalist from the Democrat and Chronicle and visit to the Central Library in Rochester.



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Rochester City School District: Rename School 12 for Frederick and Anna Douglass. Upraise Anna Douglass, a woman as determined and committed to the cause as her husband.

Anna Douglass

Anna Douglass, a patroness saint, radical abolitionist, friend, wife, mother and grandmother.

In America today efforts abound to uplift fallen history and correct misleading mythology.

Just as genuflecting on Lincoln, Twain, Washington and others is commonplace, and in the wrong hands can be destructive, the tendency to hero-worship Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass can have its shortcomings.

Acknowledging, recognizing and raising up Dr. Douglass is of vital import. However, in lifting up Dr. Douglass we must also elevate all those who “made” his public life possible.

Anna Murray, a childhood associate of Dr. Douglass within the black community of the Eastern Shore, must also be upraised.

Time is now. It is due time to tell it and tell it right.

The recent scholarship of Dr. Leigh Fought, Women in the World of Frederick Douglass, has advanced an understanding of Anna Douglass, a woman as determined and committed to the cause as her husband, as well as equally complex.

In moving to rename School 12 for Dr. Frederick Douglass, we humbly suggest you recognize Anna Douglass, a patroness saint, radical abolitionist, friend, wife, mother and grandmother.

We dare speculate Dr. Douglass would insist on his first wife’s name joining him in the adornment of a public school in his adopted city of Rochester and we understand living descendants think it would be fittingly honorific, proper, respectful and historic.



RCSD may rename School 12 for Frederick Douglass

, @citizenmurphy

Frederick Douglass may reap yet another honor in his bicentennial celebration, as the Rochester City School District is considering renaming James P.B. Duffy School 12 after him.

The school, across from Highland Hospital on South Avenue, stands on the site of the house where Douglass lived for most of his time in Rochester. That house burned to the ground in 1872, a suspected arson.

The adjacent public library was renamed for Douglass in 2016.

There was, until several years ago, a Frederick Douglass Junior High School on Fernwood Park in northeast Rochester. The building, still referred to as the Douglass campus, now houses Northeast/Northwest College Prep.

There is also a program for very vulnerable students called NorthSTAR, named after the newspaper that Douglass published in Rochester.

School 12 would not necessarily be called Frederick Douglass School 12, school board President Van White said. It could be some other name alluding to him or to his first wife, Anna Douglass, who was essential to the operation of their home as a station on the Underground Railroad.

“There are many people who went to that school who don’t know who James Duffy was,” White said. “The thought is to give the school some connection to Frederick Douglass because that’s obviously someone who people know.”

Duffy served on the city school board from 1905-32, then served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1935-37. He later was a state Supreme Court judge.

Duffy died in 1969. The school was renamed for him in 1972, just as it was being renovated.

White said a name change would also serve to help the school move on from the death of 14-year-old Trevyan Rowe, who ran away from the school after getting off the bus one morning in March and ended up drowning in the Genesee River.

“This is a year of transition for that school, and I think it could probably use an opportunity to talk about a different, more positive future, given what happened to Trevyan,” he said. “Not a new beginning, but a change.”

Jennifer Gkourlias, who had been principal until going on leave in January, has decided to resign rather than return. Vicki Gouveia, the current acting principal, will remain there until a permanent replacement can be found, White said.

The school board will have a public forum to discuss the renaming question at 6 p.m. Monday, May 21. White said the board hopes to act on the renaming in time for the 2018-19 school year.

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“Keeping the Douglass Legacy Alive” – Lecture by Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., grandson of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Annapolis, Maryland [May 22, 2018, 6:30pm @ St. John’s College]


Please register for the Kenneth B. Morris lecture HERE!

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Howard University President Jeremiah Rankin on Dr. Frederick Douglass: “How knoweth this man letters?” … “he had the best teachers and examples the Anglo-Saxon schools could afford.”

Image result for frederick douglass readingAs a self-educated fugitive slave-scholar Dr. Frederick Douglass, when a young man in his twenties, schooled Anglo-Saxon abolitionists, politicians, philosophers and statesmen of the old world to his world of American slavery. Reciprocally, Dr. Douglass benefited from an invaluable education to the ways of oration, statecraft and moral, political and legal activism.

As previously reported here, cited by Frederic May Holland, people often asked Dr. Douglass where he received his education. To which he replied, “Massachusetts Abolition University. Mr. Garrison, President.”

In this spirit we share an excerpt from the eulogy offered by Rev. Jeremiah Rankin of Howard University at Douglass’ funeral in Washington City.

I do not at all underrate the work done by those magnificent champions of freedom, who took this young man at twenty-five into the charmed coterie of their fearless eloquence; who gave him the baptism of their approval; who laid their hands upon his head, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Philips and their associates.

But they needed him as much as he needed them.

After their cool and eloquent logic, after their studied irony and invective, which, mighty as it was, was wanting in the tremolo of the voice of one that has suffered, of one whose very modulations signified more than their words; when this man arose, as one rises from the dead, as the ghost of one, the crown and scepter of whose manhood has been stolen away, while he goes from land to land proclaiming the wrong and asking for justice, then the climax was reached.

This man made work of such men as Garrison and Phillips and Sumner and even Lincoln possible.

I do not wish to use the language of exaggeration. It is not fitting the occasion. It is not in keeping with the dignified manner and methods of the man whom we commemorate, or the providential movement of which he was so long a part.

But I believe the birth of Frederick Douglass into slavery was the beginning of the end; and that this was just as needful to his anti-slavery associates as to himself.

God planted a germ there, which was to burst the cruel system apart.

It was though He said, “Go to, now, ye wise men of the Great Republic, ye Websters and Clays, I will put this Samson of freedom in your temple of Dagon, and his tawny arms shall yet tumble its columns about the ears of the worshipers. I will put the ark of my covenant in the soul of this man, and the time shall come when your idol-god shall lie toppled over upon his nose in his presence.”

Image result for frederick douglass reading

Frederick Douglass in his library at Cedar Hill. LOC/NPS-FDNHS.

I think Frederick Douglass is to be congratulated on the kind of tuition that came to him; no, that God had provided for him, through these anti-slavery associates.

They were regarded as the offscouring of the earth, and yet many of them received their culture in the choicest New England schools, and they sprang from the noblest New England stock.

And when he went abroad, it was his privilege to hear such men as Cobden and Bright and Disraeli and O’Connell and Lord John Russell and Lord Broughman.

These men Mr. Douglass studied, admired and analyzed.

His more elaborate address, too, show the influence of the first and greatest of New England orators – Daniel Webster.

But even beyond the great American orator, whose model orations in all our schools-books was Mr. Douglass in the quality of fervor and fire.

Ah! that was a day when the runaway slave heard the great statesman at Bunker Hill. And he told me that he owed a great debt to the poems of Whittier.

To converse with Mr. Douglass, to hear him in public, one who knew his humble origin and limited opportunities, might well ask, “How knoweth this man letters?”

But, in the art of which he himself had such mastery, he had the best teachers and examples the Anglo-Saxon schools could afford, while not one the great men mentioned had such a theme as his.

How carefully he improved his intercourse with such men, his observations of them, one has to only read his life to discover.

Howard University, I believe, gave this man the degree of doctor laws, and there were some laws that no man knew better how to doctor than he.

But there was not an official of the University who could reach high enough to put a wreath on his brow. It had to be done from above, by the winged genius of the University.


“Frederick Douglass’ Character and Career.” address by Jeremiah Rankin, President of Howard University at Metropolitan AME Church, 25 February, 1895.

Published in a variety of journals and magazines, including Our Day: The Altruistic Review, Volume XIV. January – June. (1895). p. 172 – 173

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University of Rochester graduate and Speaker of New York State Assembly, “Although university education was wanting to him, [Frederick Douglass] made up for it by intense application to the work of college men.”

“Many people rank Douglass higher as a writer than an orator, and believe that his work in this line will live longest. He was indefatigable as a worker. He entered in newspapers and did all the drudgery connected therewith in the early days. He cultivated a pure and graceful style, and the volume and felicity of his expression is really amazing to one who knows his history. He read far and wide, and was a hard student. He was a self-made man in every sense. He illustrated another exception in that he demonstrated the fact that it is not always necessary for a man to be a college graduate to succeed in literary life. Although university education was wanting to him, he made up for it by intense application to the work of college men. He never believed his education was finished, but was a student until the day of his death.”

Remarks by Rochesterian and 1885 graduate of the University of Rochester, James M. E. O’Grady, Speaker of the New York Assembly and future United States Congressman, on May 11, 1898 at a fundraiser for the Douglass Monument.



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Frederick Douglass attends “first Bloomer convention” in Rochester’s Corinthian Hall

Cartoon of a woman wearing the Blommer Costume

Library of Congress.

As the District’s warrior on The Hill, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, has said, “Frederick Douglass was so local he is current.”

Although specifically speaking about Dr. Douglass as a Washingtonian, Congresswoman Norton’s remarks are applicable to Dr. Douglass as a Rochesterian.

By many accounts Dr. Douglass was self-conscious of his image. That Douglass was the most photographed American of the 19th century has been the focus of many researchers, resulting in thorough scholarship by Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier.

Dr. Douglass is and was vogue. By many accounts he was witty and dashing. He could attend a convention where new women’s fashions were presented in the morning and by the evening deliver a lecture about the Fugitive Slave Law.

The two below accounts telling revealing stories of Douglass as an intellectually and culturally expansive young activist in Rochester’s Corinthian Hall.


The honor paid to the memory of Frederick Douglass in Rochester, by the dedication of his monument, have been the means of reviving many anecdotes of him.

Here are two given by the Post-Express:

Amelia Bloomer in a short dress with pants underneath

Amelia Bloomer, circa mid-1850s.

He attended the first Bloomer convention held in this city at Corinthian hall, where Mrs. Bloomer and several other ladies appeared on the platform in bloomer attire.

They were greeted with shouts of ridicule from a portion of the audience bent on making a disturbance. After the principal speakers had addressed the audience the president asked if anyone present wished to speak.

Frederick Douglass had been seen to enter and take a seat, and, upon this invitation from the platform, there were cries for “Douglass” from the disturbing element.

Mr. Douglass rose slowly and with great deliberation said: “This is a matter to which I have paid little attention, as I have been busy with matters I consider more important. I am not sure that I am in favor of the proposed reform in women’s dress, but,” pointing to the men and boys who had been hooting, “I see that you have the earmarks of a reform, the shouts of ridicule, satire and derision of the lower and baser element.”

On another occasion when he was hurling out an anathema in Corinthian hall against the fugitive-slave bill, he said: “Is there a man here who dares to say he has the right to sell his brother?”

A voice clearly responded: “I do.”

In an instant, every eye saw the speaker – the finger of Douglass pointed him out as he stood, one of the outermost tier, outlined against the white background.

“Then,” said Douglass in withering tones, “turn your face to the wall.”



“Table Talk.” Northwestern Christian Advocate, 5 July, 1899, p. 36.

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