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DCist: Norton Wants To Establish Commission To Honor Frederick Douglass

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AP Photo/Carolyn Klaster

 

While many will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Friday, perhaps by getting married, let’s not forget that it’s also the birthday of Frederick Douglass—the legendary Civil War-era statesman and social reformer.

To mark the occasion, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill yesterday calling for the establishment of a Bicentennial Commission to find ways the federal government can honor his life during the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2018. The commission would explore different ways to do this, including the “issuance of a Frederick Douglass bicentennial postage stamp, the convening of a joint session of Congress for ceremonies and activities relating to Frederick Douglass, a rededication of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the acquisition and preservation of artifacts associated with Frederick Douglass,” Norton said in her statement for the Congressional Record.

“Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans,” Norton also said. “He lived in the District of Columbia for 23 of his 57 years as a free man and was deeply committed to obtaining equal congressional voting and self-government rights for District of Columbia residents.” Douglass’ Anacostia home, Cedar Hill, is a National Historic Site, and a statue of Douglass from D.C. was finally moved to the U.S. Capitol this summer.

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By Matt Cohen in  on Feb 12, 2014 11:22 AM

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READ: DCist’s Martin Austermuhle, “Literacity: Frederick Douglass’ D.C. Days”

Full article HERE:

National Park Service, FDNHS

“In the book, Muller dives into the complex and minute details of Douglass’ life in Washington—from his role as a newspaper publisher to public speaker and even the appointed U.S. Marshal for D.C., responsible for hunting down the very type of fugitive that he had once been. Muller also touches upon Douglass’ appointment as the D.C. Recorder of Deeds, and his service on the Board of Trustees of Howard University.

The book also touches upon the complexities of race relations in Reconstruction-era Washington, when slaves had been emancipated but segregation still remained. Muller tells of the death of Douglass’ wife in 1882, and his subsequent marriage to Helen Pitts, a white woman. The move shocked the city’s establishment—a Post reporter even asked him if it could compromise his position as a black leader—and showed the even the most ardent supporters of ending slavery still weren’t ready for what followed.

Muller’s book connects Douglass to the city and neighborhood the way no other project has yet been able to. In his epilogue, he explains that the research he did was motivated by his own questions during a visit to the Douglass house in 2010. In reading his book and visiting his home, you’re able to re-imagine the man and re-consider the possibilities of the place he once lived.”

Much thanks and respect to Martin for coming through to the Douglass house.

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