Archive for June, 2018
Will Old Anacostia & Washington, D.C. join Fell’s Point, Baltimore and Easton, Maryland in hanging banners to honor Frederick Douglass Bicentennial celebration?
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:
- Lower Georgia Avenue & upper 7th Street NW — Frederick Douglass and Howard University
- Capitol Hill Historic District — Frederick Douglass and Reconstruction (editor of the New National Era & relationship with Congress)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
LOOK! Douglassonian Muralist Shawn Dunwoody debuts distinctive Dr. Frederick Douglass stomping in his Air Force Ones, the standard uniform of Eastern Shoremen
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 …
Did you know Dr. Frederick Douglass was appointed a “member of the District School Board”? I didn’t. (Rochester Union & Advertiser, August 1874)
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 know 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 …
LOOK! Douglassonian Muralist Shawn Dunwoody debuts distinctive Dr. Frederick Douglass, Editor Emeritus of Radical Journalists, “Each One … Teach One!”
This past 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, Dunwoody has enlivened Dr. Douglass and brought him to life anew.
I am familiar with murals in my areas and have studied Prof. Zoe Trodd’s expansive documentation of Douglass murals internationally.
In my estimation, this mural is most revolutionary in its presentation of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass as Editor Emeritus of Radical Journalists.
Therefore it is my personal favorite.
Another book about “political philosophy” of Douglass -> “A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass” (University of Kentucky Press, 2018)
I was sent information after the fold by Williams College Professor Neil Roberts, the books’s editor, and responded with an inquiry clarifying how the alleged “rising scholars” were selected.
I’ve heard of Angela Davis and Nicolas Bucolla (when I told an intern of his I would not do pro-bono research for her into the New National Era) but otherwise I’ve never heard of nor corresponded with any of the scholars.
Professor Roberts said he was familiar with my work and not bound by the academic insularity that, in my opinion, has suppressed the field of Douglass Studies for generations.
I decided even as the book appears to be a compilation of mumbo-jumbo academic word salad scholarship — i.e. “hemispheric thinker” as descriptive praise — it is a new work of Douglass Studies. Therefore it deserves attention on principle of uplifting scholarship.
Personally, this philosophical scholarship appears a striking resemblance to its first-cousin … speculative scholarship.
We’ve been here before:
We hope A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass (2018) mentions at least two Supreme Court Justices, three Senators, four Congressmen and a President other than Lincoln. The political network of Douglass and its implication has yet to be advanced by scholars. We hope. We always do.
Prof. Roberts is a young Douglassonian scholar. This generation of Douglassonians, and the next, must build an entire infrastructure of Douglass Studies that scholars of Lincoln, Twain, Dickens, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman and others have enjoyed for decades.
In our limited understanding of the nascent field of Douglass Studies, Prof. Roberts and Johns Hopkins University Prof. Lawrence Jackson are the only two men of African descent engaged in the work of uplifting scholarship.
We understand the limitations of the university and commend these two scholars for their important work.
Lastly, we have on open invitation to Prof. Roberts, and all other educators, to walk Old Anacostia and see what Dr. Douglass saw.
Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a prolific writer and public speaker whose impact on American literature and history has been long studied by historians and literary critics. Yet as political theorists have focused on the legacies of such notables as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Douglass’s profound influence on Afro-modern and American political thought has often been undervalued.
In an effort to fill this gap in the scholarship on Douglass, editor Neil Roberts and an exciting group of established and rising scholars examine the author’s autobiographies, essays, speeches, and novella. Together, they illuminate his genius for analyzing and articulating core American ideals such as independence, liberation, individualism, and freedom, particularly in the context of slavery. The contributors explore Douglass’s understanding of the self-made American and the way in which he expanded the notion of individual potential by arguing that citizens had a responsibility to improve not only their own situations but also those of their communities.
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass also considers the idea of agency, investigating Douglass’s passionate insistence that every person in a democracy, even a slave, possesses an innate ability to act. Various essays illuminate Douglass’s complex racial politics, deconstructing what seems at first to be his surprising aversion to racial pride, and others explore and critique concepts of masculinity, gender, and judgment in his oeuvre. The volume concludes with a discussion of Douglass’s contributions to pre– and post–Civil War jurisprudence.
Neil Roberts is associate professor of Africana studies, political theory, and the philosophy of religion at Williams College. His book Freedom as Marronage is the recipient of awards from the American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory section and Choice magazine, and the Association for College and Research Libraries selected the work as a Top 25 book for 2015. He is president of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.
“Frederick Douglass’s identity as a major voice in black American thought has long been recognized, but his significance has usually been ghettoized. Neil Roberts’s important anthology is a valuable contribution to the growing body of work seeking to establish Douglass as one of the most important political theorists in US history—an interlocutor with whom we should all be urgently engaging, given the legacy of slavery and racial injustice in the United States.” — Charles W. Mills, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center, and author of Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism
“Through the careful, probing, and insightful work of an incredibly distinguished group of contributors, A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass sets a new bar for scholarly writing on Douglass’ political thought. This groundbreaking and rich text is essential reading.” — Tommie Shelby, Harvard University
“The beauty and brilliance of Frederick Douglass’s political thought is brought to life in Neil Roberts’ outstanding volume. Offering readers a rare opportunity to engage Douglass’s work in all its variety and complexity, A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass reveals him as a hemispheric thinker whose analyses of freedom, power, slavery, and white supremacy are enmeshed in current questions of affect, aesthetics, resistance, and the very nature of political membership. This book’s extraordinary social and political theorists remind us that democracy’s promise requires confronting the practices of unfreedom that haunt us still.” — Cristina Beltrán, New York University
For ordering please contact www.kentuckypress.com or call 1-800-537-5487 and use DISCOUNT CODE FS30 to receive a 30% discount through September 1, 2018
Dr. Benjamin Quarles speaks on Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass [Christian Science Monitor, 11 February, 1974]
So intense was Douglass’s devotion to the fight for human equality that both historians [Blassingame and Quarles] consider him perhaps the most versatile of all black leaders, past and present. …
Says Dr. Quarles: “Mr. Douglass’s technique of protest is as relevant today as it was when he lived. He subscribed with Lincoln to the Declaration of Independence. He was a freedom fighter in the complete sense. Any movement that claims to fight for freedom and equality for everyone embraces the ideals of Douglass.
“He was more than a black leader,” Professor Quarles continues, “for he moved across racial lines in his quest for freedom. He was one of the only men who took part in the first women’s convention in Seneca, N.Y., in 1848. Wherever there was injustice he would raise his voice in protest.
“Why the day he died in 1895,” says Dr. Quarles, “he had come to Washington, D.C. to address a women’s rights meeting.”
Douglass is a timeless figure, unlike so many other leaders who have followed him, Professor Quarles says. There is no movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s – student, racial, women, peace – in which he would not have been involved.
One of the achievements of Frederick Douglass, Dr. Quarles conteds, was the man’s sense of direction exemplified in his ability to rise from humble begginings to a status where he won the respect of the kings and presidents, remaining ever mindful of from whence he came and how much further all mankind has to go to achieve freedom.
The antecedents of Douglass all adopted or embraced some form of his philosphy as their own, Dr. Quarles says. …
Narrower concentration, however, is what Dr. Quarles feels separates Frederick Douglass from those who follow him. Some leaders, he says. concentrated on one reform and their best to assert their own personalities.
“In black life there are so many different ways to be black and be a reformer, the professor explains.
“Douglass,” he says, ” took on a wide range of interests, moving often among whites. He was more spacious.” …
“Douglass will recede in importance when our other great American heroes recede,” he says. “Even though Douglass addressed himself, as many of the others, to a 19th-century world, the principles for which he stood are eternal. It’s human spirit at its best, not at its medicore.
“History is a living thing,” he continues. “Frederick Douglass lives today because his ideals are our ideals. We still want to fight injustice and inequality in the order of things.”
selected excerpt of “Frederick Douglass: As Black History Week commences, …”. The Christian Science Monitor. February 11, 1974. Written by Jeannye Thornton.
Vertical Files, Frederick Douglass. Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Room.