Days before the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site opened to the public for the Capitol Fireworks, and W Street SE Fireworks Show, for the first time in a generation, local horticulturalist Ron Ammon from Annapolis-based Nature Sacred devoted special attention to an overlooked small park on Cedar Hill’s sacred grounds.
Years ago Open Spaces Sacred Places, now Nature Sacred, installed two benches in a gardened recreation space behind the parking lot. The rear bench, in an area shaded by extending foliage, had unfortunately weathered and succumbed to termites in recent years.
With an official heat index over 100 degrees Ron unloaded materials and tools from his white pick-up truck and got to work assembling a new sacred bench for the landscape of the Douglass family home.
In quick time Ron hauled and disposed of the old bench in the adjacent woods and moved the new bench into place. I accepted his invitation to take it on its first test-drive.
Ron also cut back dead branches of the nationally stricken Ash Tree, inspected the small foot bridge and generally cleaned up the park area.
A young artist visiting the Douglass home with her parents completed a sketch of Ron, a true W Street Douglassonian Naturalist, to show her appreciation for his industrious spirit.
We thank Ron, Nature Sacred and the TFK Foundation for the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and all Douglassonian Naturalists from W Street SE and all parts of the world that visit the sacred grounds.
W Street Douglassonians and local activists have been familiar with this organization for many years, including the installation of benches in Market Square nearly a decade ago.
A wonderful organization that helps communities heals from the outside by promoting nature’s impact and importance to everyday life.
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Kojo Nnamdi — “International Men of Consequence” [Transcript of interview w/ Dr. Ka’mal McClarin & John Muller on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU 88.5 FM, July 3, 2018]
Kojo Nnamdi Show features “Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist Icon And Man Of Washington” [July 3, 2018, 12pm _ 88.5 WAMU]
This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass in the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Although he was internationally known for his work as an abolitionist, writer, suffragist, orator, and statesman, in his later years he was deeply involved in the politics and culture of local Washington, where he lived in an Anacostia mansion. We take a look at the time Douglass spent in Washington, hear how residents are celebrating the bicentennial of his birth and, in the lead up to Independence Day, remember one of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
- Ka’mal McClarin Museum Curator, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, NPS
- John Muller Author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia
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.
For more info on the archaeology project visit HERE.
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.
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.
Video is from 2013.
Professor Dale Glenwood Green serves as the Chair of the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture.
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.
“Marshall Douglass’ Old Master Dead.” Evening Star, 11 February, 1880, p. 4
There are numerous factual errors and speculations within this short news item. However, it is a valuable contemporaneous account.
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.