Archive for June, 2018

Mid-Shore History: Frederick Douglass and Wye House with Richard Tilghman (Talbot Spy)

Punching above its weight class, the Talbot Spy is an online news publication covering history, culture and politics of the Shore. Publisher Dave Wheelan recently posted an interview with Richard Tilghman, descendant of Governor Edward Lloyd IV and owner of the Wye House.

Mr. Tilghman shares his family history which is inextricably and eternally linked with the family history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass.

In recent years Mr. Tilghman and his family have opened the grounds of Wye House to a team of archaeology students from the University of Maryland, led by Prof. Mark Leone.

For more info on the archaeology project visit HERE.

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Editor’s Note:

We’ve recently made contact with Mr. Dave Wheelan of the Talbot Spy and hope to connect sometime in the near future for a tour of Cedar Hill.

 

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Eastern Shoreman Douglassonian Morgan State Professor Dale Green uplifts history of “The Hill” neighborhood in Old Easton, Maryland, Talbot County

Morgan State Professor and indigenous Eastern Shoreman scholar Professor Dale Green shares and uplifts ancient history of “The Hill” and uplifts fallen history of oldest free African-American community in the country.

Editor’s Note:

Video is from 2013.

Professor Dale Glenwood Green serves as the Chair of the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture.

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Eastern Shore Douglassoniana: “Marshal Douglass’ Old Master Dead” [Evening Star, February 11, 1880]

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Former slaver of the Baileys buried in St. Michaels, Maryland. (Talbot County) Photo: Tarence Bailey & William Alston-El

MARSHALL DOUGLASS’ OLD MASTER DEAD. –

The Baltimore American this morning says: – Captain Thomas Auld, so well known as once the owner of Hon. Frederick Douglass – once an Eastern Shore slave boy, now Marshal of the District of Columbia, one of the finest public orators in the United States – died on Sunday last at the residence of his son-in-law, John C. Harper, esq., near St. Michael’s, Talbot county.

Captain Auld was 85 years of age, and had been almost helpless for a long time before he died. He was at one time a merchant in St. Michael’s, was a member of the M.E. Church, was a most excellent man in all the relations of life, and was a kind and indulgent master, when he owned slaves, freeing them all at the early age of 31 years.

In the year 1839, after young Douglass ran away from his slave plantation, Captain Auld received a letter from a gentleman in Canada, asking if he would sell his freedom papers, and offering a liberal sum of money for them. He did not reply to the letter, saying that Douglass would have been free in a few years had he not run away, and now that he has gone, he could stay.

After the passage of the fugitive slave law in 1850, he transferred his supposed right in Douglass to his brother, Mr. Hugh Auld, in Baltimore, who disposed of it to Douglass himself, who was thus relieved of all apprehensions of arrest.

SOURCE:

“Marshall Douglass’ Old Master Dead.” Evening Star, 11 February, 1880, p. 4

Editor’s Note:

There are numerous factual errors and speculations within this short news item. However, it is a valuable contemporaneous account.

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Will Old Anacostia & Washington, D.C. join Fell’s Point, Baltimore and Easton, Maryland in hanging banners to honor Frederick Douglass Bicentennial celebration?

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Washington Informer, June 14 – 20, 2018. page 21

In this week’s edition of The Washington Informer is an article I wrote, “Activists Call for Douglass Banners in Old Anacostia to Hail Bicentennial Celebration,” with quotes from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Honorable Ken B. Morris, Jr., Chuck Hicks and Duane Guatier of the Anacostia Arts Center.

The article has precipitated discussions as to how to make the presence of banners a reality. In order to advance the conversation I share a couple ideas:

Throughout the neighborhoods of Washington City a residual spirit of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass touches extant churches, schools, cemeteries, bridges, landmarks and buildings. Both local and national activism efforts required Dr. Douglass to remain familiar with the Federal City, as well. The United States Capitol, White House and Treasury are all places Dr. Douglass was no stranger.

Therefore distinctive Douglass banners could be placed in minimally three (3) separate locations throughout NW, NE and SE Washington:

  1. Lower Georgia Avenue & upper 7th Street NW — Frederick Douglass and Howard University
  2. Capitol Hill Historic District — Frederick Douglass and Reconstruction (editor of the New National Era & relationship with Congress)
  3. Anacostia Historic District — Frederick Douglass and Family; Frederick Douglass and local activism

For the installation of Douglass banners in Washington City to occur there must be a sense of purpose and urgency upon a number of elected officials, bureaucrats and community partners.

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Frederick Douglass banner in Easton, Maryland. Photo William Alston-El.

Washington City has the collective sophistication and enough collective coin to make this easily happen and happen quickly. Ideally, installation before July 4th would have been poetic but as we are in mid-June that won’t happen.

It appears there needs to be coordination on the Douglass Bicentennial between the offices of Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. With the municipal support of Bowser and the federal support of Norton the placement of banners can be achieved.

I can personally attest, and the record reflects, Congresswoman Norton has been a lioness on the Hill advocating and uplifting the legacy of Dr. Douglass for many years now. The relocation of the Douglass statue from Judiciary Square to the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall was largely due Congresswoman Norton’s leadership. Norton is truly a Douglassonian. However, there is only so much she can do as her office has larger issues to contend with under the Trump Administration.

William Alston-EL and I attended the opening of then-Mayoral candidate Bowser’s Anacostia field office many years ago. Other than light conversation I do not know Mayor Bowser and her level of commitment to Douglassonianism and the uplifting of fallen history.

Photo: Sam Ford, ABC 7

As part of President Trump’s inaugural parade the DC government (city council and Mayor) displayed a Douglass banner across their stand. The convenient ceremonial pageantry is not what is needed now.

What is needed is leadership and coordination between local ANC Commissioners  (Wards 1, 4, 6 and 8), Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), DC Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), DC Commission on Arts & Humanities (DCCAH), Office of Planning’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) and a bevy of community organizations from Shaw to Capitol Hill to Old Anacostia.

It is time for Washington City to join Fell’s Point, Easton and Rochester in uplifting Frederick Douglass.

JM


Editor’s Note:

Below is the image the National Park Service has used to commemorate the Douglass Bicentennial. Potential banners could be two-sided, with this image or a unique image on one side and a geo-specific or thematic design on the reverse side.

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All-day activities planned for July 4, 2018 at Cedar Hill; open for first time in long time for grand view of fireworks on the National Mall

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Presents 
“What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”

 View from Cedar Hill

Join the National Park Service on July 4, 2018, for a day of reflection and commemoration as we honor history and celebrate 200 years of the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, the “Lion of Anacostia.”

Celebrate Independence Day starting at 9 a.m. with special activities at Douglass Cedar Hill estate in historic Anacostia, Washington D.C. Bring your blankets and a picnic to view the fireworks on the National Mall from Cedar Hill at 9:09 p.m.
All activities are FREE and open to the public.

TEXT JULY4DC TO 888-777 FOR ALERTS AND UPDATES

Plan Your Visit

9 a.m. Join us for ranger-led house tours given at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.

11 a.m. See actor Darius Wallace deliver Douglass famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” on the front porch of the house.

12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Journey on a self guided tour of the house with rangers in different rooms to answer questions. Tours will be on the first floor only.

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Become a bicentennial Junior Ranger and earn a limited edition badge! Enjoy activities for children and families on the lawn. Croquet, rangers unrolling a replica of the 1877 American flag (1877 was the year Douglass moved to Cedar Hill), storytelling, and living history actors portraying Douglass and his family.

7 p.m. See an encore performance from actor Darius Wallace as he delivers Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech on the front porch of the house.

8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Enjoy a Fourth of July themed full orchestra concert by D.C. Strings on the front porch of Douglass’s Cedar Hill home. Listen to music as you settle in to watch the fireworks.

9:09 p.m. Witness a grand view of the fireworks on the National Mall from Cedar Hill, just like Douglass would have. Enjoy music from D.C. Strings during the fireworks show.

Getting There

Parking: Street parking will be the only available parking for this event. The site is located in a residential neighborhood, parking will be difficult to find.

Public Transportation:

  • If taking a bus, get on the B2 to “Mt. Rainier” or “Bladensburg Rd., V St. NE,” or get on the V2 to “Minnesota Ave” or “Capitol Heights Station.” There is a bus stop directly in front of the site at the corner of W and 14th Streets.
  • The B2 and V2 buses service the corner of W and 14th Streets, directly in front of the site. The 90, 93, A42, A46, A48, P1, P2, and P6 all drop off within two blocks of the site.
  • Use the Green Line and get off at Anacostia Station. When disembarking the train, follow signs to exit the station on the “Howard Road” and “Buses” side. It is approximately 3/4 miles from the station to the site.
  • If walking, take a right on Howard Road (walk 1 block), take a left on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue (walk 3 blocks), and take a right on W Street (walk 4 blocks to the site’s visitor center).
  • Visit WMATA for fares and route details.

Prohibited Items and Activities

  • All coolers, backpacks, packages, and persons may be subject to inspection.
  • No grills, alcohol, glass containers, or personal fireworks are permitted on National Park Service property.
  • Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft on National Park Service property is strictly prohibited.
  • Personal tents that block other visitors’ views and tents that require stakes are prohibited.
  • Possession of firearms in national parks is prohibited, governed by federal as well as local law.

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LOOK! Douglassonian Muralist Shawn Dunwoody debuts distinctive Dr. Frederick Douglass stomping in his Air Force Ones, the standard uniform of Eastern Shoremen

Tarence Bailey in Rochester _ 900 South Avenue w new FD mural (June 2018)

Tarence Bailey, Sr. (U.S. Army, Ret.) and his great-uncle Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass fashion the standard uniform of contemporary Eastern Shoremen … Air Force Ones.

Last weekend in Rochester, New York on the ground once the homestead of the Anna & Frederick Douglass family indigenous Douglassonian and polymath Shawn Dunwoody, with helping hands from local students and community volunteers, created the most distinctive and modern Frederick Douglass murals in the known world.

Deviating from traditional form and fashion, Dunwoody has enlivened Dr. Douglass and brought him to life anew with two two works unlike any comparable murals.

While in Rochester to connect with family and participate in ceremonies Tarence Bailey visited the 900 block of South Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood of Rochester. It was here the former Douglass homestead stood.

Now the site serves as the campus of the Frederick Douglass Community Library, School No. 12 and the Frederick Douglass Recreation Center

I am familiar with murals in my areas and have studied Prof. Zoe Trodd’s expansive documentation of Douglass murals internationally. Dunwoody’s works are some of my personal favorites and will be included in the Frederick Douglass Mural exhibit planned for this fall.

To be continued …

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Did you know Dr. Frederick Douglass was appointed a “member of the District School Board”? I didn’t. (Rochester Union & Advertiser, August 1874)

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Union and Advertiser, 28 August, 1874. Courtesy Local History and Genealogy Department of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.

During his life Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass lived many lives, visited many places, made many friends and contributed his time and influence to many associations, organizations and causes. There is much of Dr. Douglass and his life untold by any biographers, especially those who are “experts” in speculation, not interpretation or fact.

An area of scholarship untouched by modern scholars, buried deep within the Journal of Negro Education, is Dr. Douglass and Education. It is one of a dozen or so areas of scholarship that has remained at least three time zones beyond the attention of inquisitive and investigatory scholars. No longer.

On a recent trip to Rochester’s Central Library I reviewed microfilm rolls of local newspapers that have yet to be digitized. The tried and true method of cross-checking indexes has stood the test of time.

Brandon Fess and other staff of the Rochester Central library were very helpful in locating a number of news clips containing information never seen before in my six or so years of closely surveying the field of Douglass Studies.

One of the more interesting items discovered was a paragraph from a late August 1874 edition of the Union and Advertiser mentioning the appointment of Dr. Douglass to the DC Board of Education, which at that time maintained a segregated system for “white” students and “colored” students.

I can’t recall coming across this before or a similar item which documents the early involvement and activism of Dr. Douglass within the DC public school system. Many know Charles Douglass was a principal and/or night school instructor in Barry Farm.

I do not believe there is a living scholar, other than Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, who has attempted to look under this gigantic boulder of Douglass Studies.

Thanks to a tip from collaborative Douglassonian David Turk of the US Marshal Service I discovered Douglass was appointed, but did not formally accept, a position on the Board of Police Commissioners. I had not known about Douglass and the school board.

Now I know, as do you. There is much research to be done to uplift the history of Dr. Douglass.

To be continued …

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