Posts Tagged 1886
Brief note on Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & the Enoch Pratt Free Library; FBD knew Dr. Lewis Henry Steiner, founding Librarian of Enoch Pratt Free Library
As an adolescent Frederick Bailey ear hustled rudimentary academic instruction from the doorways at Wye House on the Eastern Shore to the alleyways of Fell’s Point in Baltimore City. As an adult he served on the boards of colleges and universities.
Having never attended a formal day of school in his life Dr. Douglass was regarded and respected by the most learned men and women of his era from college presidents to national legislators on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean before he was yet 30 years old.
Throughout his life Dr. Douglass aligned himself with radical Black Americans and radical European Americans who advocated for equal education, to use modern parlance. Anyone who openly supported and/or anyone who sought to aid in the education of Black Americans could count Dr. Douglass as an ally.
Part of the inspirational and aspirational story of the life of Dr. Douglass is his personal commitment to radical education across time and geography and institutions from Sunday schools to primary schools to the university to the modern American library.
Lost in the diabolical scandalmongering peddled by mythomanes is the street history of Dr. Douglass, a man of infinite real-world associations, connections and relationships. How the history and life work of Dr. Douglass connects to today has yet to be told more than a century after his passing due negligence, incompetence and state-sanctioned ignorance.
Dr. Douglass knew them all and they all knew Dr. Douglass.
In April 1879, in Frederick City, Maryland, United States Marshal Frederick (Bailey) Douglass lectured to benefit Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church on 3rd Street, where several of his close friends had previously pastored. Speaking within today’s Brewer’s Alley, Douglass shared the stage with local pastors as well as local educators.
Specifically, Marshal Douglass shared the stage in Frederick with Dr. Lewis Henry Steiner, a local to the area and advocate for equal education.
Upon its opening in 1886 Dr. Steiner was the lead librarian of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Dr. Steiner, as well as other leadership and administrative staff of Enoch Pratt, knew Dr. Douglass.
Before the central branch re-opened and before the public health crisis I was applying pressure to the administration of Enoch Pratt Free Library to see how much they knew, or rather did not know, about the connections of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to the library.
My correspondence with staff of the Enoch Pratt Free Library are all a matter of public record, as are the extant records of the library. I received a personal call after 8:00 PM one evening from a staff member thanking me for the continued pressure I was applying to the library leadership yet sharing that while the archival records I was seeking should exist they weren’t sure if they had them or where they may be. And that is how it be and why the history has been so utterly lost and mythologized by sustained public ignorance.
Frederick (Bailey) Douglass knew the founding leadership of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He was active in supporting institutions in his native Baltimore until his passing. Upon its opening the Enoch Pratt Free Library was open to all. Dr. Douglass knew this and he knew those who made it so.
Do you think Frederick (Bailey) Douglass supported the Enoch Pratt Free Library? Of course he did.
Organizations within Frederick, the state and region who can aid in educating the public include Elizabeth Shatto with the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, John Fieseler with Visit Frederick, Drew Gruber with Civil War Trails, Frederick County Public Library, leadership of AARCH and others.
Lecture by Hon. Frederick Douglass “In Aid of Free Night Schools” at Washington City in same church where Howard University was founded.
Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with the lost Gods of history. From fugitive slaves to American Presidents to starving Irish peasants to foreign heads of state Dr. Douglass commanded respect and supreme authority wherever and whenever he stepped.
Among the “paradigms” of intersectionality in which historians with no history attempt to place Dr. Douglass they fail to comprehend and understand something simple and basic: Dr. Douglass was a friend to the friendless.
Evident throughout his entire life Dr. Douglass gave back to the cause which raised him.
When I first began investigating the local legacy of Dr. Douglass community members in Old Anacostia asked, suggested and demanded I tell the untold story of his giving back to the community. I heard many an oral history, some I have now forgot, of Dr. Douglass looking out for young folk and families of the community. One of the more interesting stories I heard was from an older lady who told me her grandmother attended a local church where Dr. Douglass was known to occasionally teach Sunday school. The older lady, who I would speak to during walks in the neighborhood with my dear friend Anthony Moore, told me her grandmother and classmates would get together as adults and talk about their friend and former teacher.
As a teenager Dr. Douglass taught slaves to read. Without equivocation the established archival record and oral histories confirm Dr. Douglass was respected as an educator and friend to the friendless within his community for more than 60 years. Dr. Douglass never forgot the forgotten.
Heretofore henceforth whereas therein speculative scholarship is a dangerous and racist distortion of the truth of the life of Dr. Douglass. You know, we know who you are.
The Western Academy has betrayed Dr. Douglass. Modern American historians have near uniformly disgraced themselves and their profession with the incredible absence of original scholarship on Dr. Douglass.
The history of Dr. Douglass is in you and your community. The community of Old Anacostia has authorized me to uplift the fallen history and legacy of Dr. Douglass across all nations and languages.
Truth will set us all free.
Living in Washington City for a quarter-century Dr. Douglass was known as equally in the press galleries of the House and Senate and offices of the Executive Mansion as he was on street corners, church pulpits and classrooms of Howard University.
That Dr. Douglass commanded supreme respect wherever he walked was not due his fame nor his past but due his assistance to his community in the present.
Knowing vapid academics have stolen my research before and will continue to do so we are selective in our disclosure of sources but it is sometimes extra necessary to demonstrate from whence Dr. Douglass comes to counter and correct the dominating lies and untruths.
In 1886 Dr. Douglass gave a lecture “In Aid to Free Night Schools” at the same church where Howard University was conceived.
We briefly share this anecdote to honor Valerie Ashley and all her staff and students at Southeast Ministry, all staff and students at Ballou STAY, Roosevelt Stay, Academy of Hope, Washington Literacy Council and all the organizations in Washington City uplifting humanity and community.
It is through the work of these organizations the legacy of Dr. Douglass remains alive and well.