Posts Tagged academics

Dr. Frederick Douglass in Paris, France “wept with joy” upon hearing a “Negro girl” sing “Steal Away To Jesus”

Earlier this month there was an academic conference in Paris focusing on the subject of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass.

Short on scholarship, such as Frederick Douglass in Paris, and long on speculation and “intersectionality,” the gathered assemblage and conference organizers missed a sacred opportunity to uplift and advance lost history.

Attentive scholars of Dr. Douglass, of which there are woefully few, know how important Paris was to Dr. Douglass. I need not offer further details, whereas material published on this blog has been properly and improperly cited in David Blight’s book, as well as used by other Ivy League professors.

I know folks who claim to be Douglass scholars but are limited in their scholarship and therefore more restricted in their interpretations take material on this blog to use as their own.

As a street historian my orientation is similar to Dr. John Creighton in that the information and research should be available to the public. As a result of this blog more than a couple family historians as well as others have reached out to me. As a result of this blog many dialogues have occurred and collaborative friendships commenced.

This folks who put together the #DouglassInParis conference have no personal nor intellectual integrity. In a forthcoming blog post I will detail why and how the conference was an embarrassment but for now I present further unknown and unpublished scholarship on #DouglassInParis …

FD in Paris _ newspaper anecdote-page-001 _ music

The Fisk Jubilee Singers made Gladstone weep and praise, and once when Fred Douglass was in Paris a reception was given him, and behind closed doors they had a Negro girl who was attending a school of musical culture, and when Mr. Douglass was at the highest pitch of jollity forth came the sweet melody of “Steal Away to Jesus,” and all was silent.

Finally Douglass said, “No one can sing that way but my people.”

The folding doors opened wide, and there stood a Negro girl with arms outstretched wide.

Douglass advanced without an introduction, embraced her and wept with joy.



Trademarked research not to be purloined by Princeton undergraduates or condescending and snide professors.

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AHA Conference — Frederick Douglass at 200: His Legacy in Our Time

What Would Frederick Douglasss Say

Copyright exclusive to William Alston-El and John Muller. Strictly enforced.

AHA Session 300

Sunday, January 7, 2018

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Virginia Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)

Session Abstract

Douglass’s was an epic American life. It spanned most of the nineteenth century. In many ways, his journey to maturity unfolded in tandem with that of the United States itself. Douglass became an international celebrity in his lifetime, serving as an ambassador first culturally and later officially. His life illuminates important and compelling stories about the United States and the countries he visited. Douglass traveled to (among other places) England, Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, Canada, and Haiti.The bicentennial of Douglass’s birth falls in 2018 (February 14th in fact). It offers an extraordinary opportunity for teaching, storytelling, commemoration, and celebration, linking the local and the global. Programs and events will take place around the globe.

And even we–who began planning for his bicentennial a few years ago—are continually struck anew by ways in which Douglass’s legacy speaks to people and to politics today.

Here in the District of Columbia, where Douglass made his home for the last quarter-century of his life, a network has been forming among all the people, places, organizations, educational institutions, artists, and community groups worldwide who will mark Frederick Douglass’s bicentennial.

The proposed Roundtable brings together representatives of such organizations, diverse in location, mission, and focus. All share an interest in bringing Douglass’s life and legacy to wider audiences, and in connecting with likeminded others. This session showcases for conference attendees the vibrancy, innovation, and increasing interconnectedness of goals and programming among scholars and educational institutions, museums, stewards of historic sites and other interpreters of history for the public, human rights organizations, artists, and community groups. All aim to engage directly with questions of what Douglass’s past has to teach the present.

As a preview of bicentennial projects already begun, this session presents a diverse and democratic global bicentennial community in keeping with Douglass’s own lifelong commitment to diversity, to education and literacy, and to civic participation. The audience for our bicentennial community and programs encompasses students and teachers, artists, writers, churches, community groups, those who work in cultural heritage and historical interpretation of all kinds, as well as large swaths of the general public. We expect the audience for this session will be as similarly diverse as annual meeting attendance rules allow.

The four presenters and the commentator will each be held to a strict time limit of ten (10) minutes for their presentations, for a total of fifty (50) minutes. We will have printed flyers to distribute to the audience containing the short CVs or biographical paragraphs of all roundtable participants, thus eliminating the need for lengthy introductions. The chair will identify the participants, indicate the order of their presentations, and keep time, for an additional five (5) minutes. This will leave thirty-five (35) minutes for audience Q & A and discussion.

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“Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia” mentioned by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Cover_Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC_By John Muller _ The History Press _ Oct. 2012Thank you to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education for the mention, alongside fellow Douglass scholar Celeste-Marie Bernier, appropriately.

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Academics bogard Frederick Douglass but the true power of one of America’s greatest native sons lives on in the the hearts and minds of school aged boys and girls

Courtesy of Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Institute

At last year’s Washington Antiquarian Book Fair there was an image of Frederick Douglass I had never seen before glued into a 19th century photo album. Its provenance was from a private collection somewhere in upstate New York. The seller wanted $1,000. I would rather put that towards an original copy of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I kept it moving.

Over the past year I have become familiar with some of the locations in Washington, DC that house Douglass material from Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center to the Library of Congress to the National Archives to the Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library. Beyond the city limits there are Douglass materials in special collections at the University of Rochester, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, and elsewhere. One of theses places elsewhere is Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Institute which has material I have never seen before in all my previous reading and research.

No doubt the academics love themselves some Frederick Douglass. But the true eternal power of his life will always be renewed and best honored in the hearts and minds of young school aged boys and girls coming up in communities from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Rochester to Baltimore to Washington, DC to the rural hamlets down south in Alabama and Georgia who for the first team discover and find inspiration in one of America’s greatest native sons.

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