READ: DCist’s Martin Austermuhle, “Literacity: Frederick Douglass’ D.C. Days”

Full article HERE:

National Park Service, FDNHS

“In the book, Muller dives into the complex and minute details of Douglass’ life in Washington—from his role as a newspaper publisher to public speaker and even the appointed U.S. Marshal for D.C., responsible for hunting down the very type of fugitive that he had once been. Muller also touches upon Douglass’ appointment as the D.C. Recorder of Deeds, and his service on the Board of Trustees of Howard University.

The book also touches upon the complexities of race relations in Reconstruction-era Washington, when slaves had been emancipated but segregation still remained. Muller tells of the death of Douglass’ wife in 1882, and his subsequent marriage to Helen Pitts, a white woman. The move shocked the city’s establishment—a Post reporter even asked him if it could compromise his position as a black leader—and showed the even the most ardent supporters of ending slavery still weren’t ready for what followed.

Muller’s book connects Douglass to the city and neighborhood the way no other project has yet been able to. In his epilogue, he explains that the research he did was motivated by his own questions during a visit to the Douglass house in 2010. In reading his book and visiting his home, you’re able to re-imagine the man and re-consider the possibilities of the place he once lived.”

Much thanks and respect to Martin for coming through to the Douglass house.

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