Archive for August, 2012

112th Congress, 2d Session, H.R. 6336, “To direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass…

H.R. 6336 Introduced to the 112th Congress, 2d Session on August 2, 2012.

To direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Read the entire BILL HERE 

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Frederick Douglass in Paris and “in a Peevish Mood” [Washington Post, Dec. 1, 1886] & 2010 poster for gospel choir performance in Paris

Fred Douglass in a Peevish Mood.

Boston, Nov. 30. – Fred Douglass has written to friends from Paris saying that he has everywhere been received with civility, courtesy and kindness and as a man among men. “America has her missionaries abroad,” he says, “in the shape of Ethiopian singers who disfigure and distort the features of the negro and burlesque his language and manners in a way to make him appear to thousands as more akin to apes than men. This mode of warfare is purely American and it is carried on here in Paris as it is in the great cities of England and of the States, so that to many minds, as no good was thought to come out of Nazareth, so no good is expected of the negro. In addition to these Ethiopian buffoons and serenaders who presume to represent us abroad, there are malicious American writers who take pleasure in assailing us as an inferior and good-for-nothing race of which it is impossible to make anything.”



Europeans’ interest in black American culture continues in Paris today; black American gospel choirs perform regularly to packed cathedrals. Hip-hop music and culture, largely the creation of Jamaican and American peoples of African descent, can be seen in today’s Paris; graffiti is seemingly everywhere, and music is heard (in French and English) blaring from the shops of Montmartre and hundreds of headphones on the Métro.

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Cedar Hill at night


…view from W Street SE

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The 9 chapters of “Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia”

1. Mr. Douglass Goes to Washington

2. Honorable Frederick Douglass

3. Frederick Douglass, Editor of the New National Era

4. Marshal Douglass

5. Old Uniontown

6. Howard University and Frederick Douglass, Esquire

7. Frederick Douglass’s Wives: Anna Murray Douglass and Helen Pitts Douglass

8. Grand Pa Douglass

9. Twilight

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Publication date for Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia….

OCTOBER 92,  2012! First scheduled book talk will be Saturday, October 13 at 1 p.m. at Politics & Prose. More information soon…


Joseph Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass, the world’s first famous black American violinist

Library of Congress

Joseph Douglass was born in the Anacostia area July 3, 1869 to Charles and Mary Elizabeth Douglass, their second child and only that would live to adulthood. Following in the path of his famous grandfather and father, Joseph took up the violin at a young age, receiving classical training at the New England Conservatory for five years and later the Boston Conservatory. According to a history of black American music, Joseph would become the “first black violinist to make transcontinental tours and was the direct inspiration for several young violinists who later became professionals.” In his role as director of the department of music at Howard University and headmaster at music schools in New York, Joseph helped cultivate the budding talent of those who came behind him. According to his obituary in the Post from December 8, 1935, “His appearances at the White House were regularly scheduled during administrations of Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, after which he undertook concert work.” If only his grandfather had been there to see it.

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Frederick Douglass surprised Dublin merchant by playing “Rocky Road to Dublin” [Wichita Daily Eagle, November 24, 1894]

Frederick Douglass was a renaissance man. We know this. But did you know this…? [First Column, sub-heading “An Amazed Son of Erin”]

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Frederick Douglass, editor of The New National Era, explains newspaper’s name change [September 8, 1870]

In the fall of 1870 The New Era, which had launched January 13, 1870 as the first national paper for black Americans, rechristened itself The New National Era. On September 8, 1870 the paper, edited and published by Frederick Douglass, ran a small note explaining the name change.

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Thank you to Anacostia resident William Alston-El for keeping alive the spirit of Frederick Douglass

If you have been in Anacostia more than once in the past forty years there is a good chance you have come across William Alston-El. Over the past two years I have come to know William, writing about him for stories on Greater Greater Washington. Like Frederick Douglass, he once ran the streets with a reckless abandon. But William has since turned a new corner in his life and takes leadership roles in Anacostia not many others can take. “I show up at all the meetings to speak for those who aren’t there,” he has often told me. When walking the neighborhood William employs tough love as well as encouragement to many of the men and women he has known for decades but are still struggling with substance abuse issues. “If I can change, and make a difference in my community, so can you brother/sister,” he often says. Additionally, William is in touch with the younger generation often imparting advice to them. He can speak their language and has a legitimacy which few others have. William, a painter by trade, advocates the “mechanical arts” much like Douglass did in his later years.

It is through men and women like William that the spirit of Frederick Douglass lives on in today’s Anacostia.

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