Posts Tagged Douglassonian
Earlier this month at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore I attended a presentation by Douglassonian Studies scholar Dr. Lawrence Jackson of Johns Hopkins University.
Attentive and insightful historians can easily distinguish speculation from scholarship. Unfortunately, in the nascent field of Douglassonian Studies speculation stills reigns.
Fortunately and thankfully there is yet hope.
Using Census records, maps, pamphlets, newspapers, city directories and other scholarly resources Prof. Jackson introduced information gleaned from the creation of four interactive digital maps using GIS software. Jackson collaborated with his students, passing on the Douglassonian tradition, to generate these maps.
According to an online article about the project Jackson led, “Working with the Maryland Historical Society, the four students combed archives, old newspapers, and census records to trace Douglass’ pathways in the 1820s and ’30s. Then, with JHU’s Sheridan Libraries, they used the ArcGIS digital mapping platform to construct a visual narrative.”
Having attended dozens of Douglass discussions, panels and lectures over the years I can state beyond metaphysical certitude that, along with other scholars such as Prof. Leigh Fought, Zoe Trodd, Celeste-Marie Bernier and Morgan State doctoral candidate Candace Jackson Gray, Prof. Jackson is advancing Douglass scholarship to areas of previously unexplored terrain.
“Frederick Bailey of Baltimore” was an original, engaging, thoughtful and revealing discussion of the early years and experiences of Frederick Bailey in Baltimore as told through new sources of scholarship.
We commend Prof. Jackson and hope to see, hear and read more of his work on Douglass in the near future.
Open Letter to Prof. David Blight: It’s not about you. It’s about the next generation of youngsters, those whose birthright is to know the Douglassonian tradition is theirs to inherit.
My name is John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012) which needs to be properly mentioned during your upcoming talks as the only existing book detailing Mr. Douglass’ largely unknown years in Washington City.
You know who I am.
When I first embarked upon writing my book in late 2011 I heard from many people you were at work on a biography on Mr. Douglass, which has still not been published all these years later. As a dutiful local historian and street reporter I sent you an email or two or three, along with a call, to let you know who I was and what I was endeavoring to do. I have the receipts.
As I moved forward with my research you were not particularly helpful or supportive of a young Douglassonian scholar. Other academics and “Douglass experts” were welcoming, helpful and offered assistance when I was trying to work through questions I had during the research process. The more I studied Mr. Douglass closely the more I realized how much of an abject mediocre scholar you are and which you remain today.
Mr. Douglass was for the youngsters, his whole life. He played baseball with neighborhood children at Cedar Hill. Students from Howard University were always welcome at Cedar Hill. You are a betrayal and disgrace to this Douglassonian tradition.
I told you I would catch you. I did.
At the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue at Emancipation Hall on July 19, 2013 I ran up on you. I told you, “I’m John Muller. You know who I am.”
You responded defensively that you’d read my book and offered it was “well written” or something such as that. I told you my interest was not your opinion of my book but your displaying a respect for the community of Anacostia, a place where the spirit and history of Mr. Douglass can be felt in the air at any time of the day, any day and any season of the year.
I invited you to attend my book talk at the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book happening the next day, July 20, 2013. You did not attend.
Additionally, I invited you to take one of my neighborhood walking tours of Anacostia while in town or during any of your subsequent visits to Washington City. To date you have never taken the walking tour. Other “Douglass scholars” have. They understand. You do not now nor have ever understood who Mr. Douglass was and is to Old Ana.
Since I am a self-taught 16th & W Street SE scholar you may continue to think you can dismiss me personally and the Douglass scholarship I have advanced for the past five years — which is far above and beyond the work you have done on Douglass during your entire time at Yale — along with having a continued blatant inattention of the neighborhood and community which I have been appointed as an ambassador for.
Your demonstrative disrespect and disregard for my scholarship is of no consequence other than to shine light on your intellectual and scholarly dishonesty but, my dear Prof. Blight, you WILL NOT ignore the neighborhood of Old Anacostia and the self-made and self-taught Douglassonian scholars who hold down the corners along 16th Street SE and W Street SE.
The men of Old Anacostia know more about Douglass and what his life means to the human condition than you, an intellectually dishonest, manipulative and selfish old white man could ever understand in 200 lifetimes, let alone 200 years.
The young men and elders of 16th Street SE respect, admire and honor Mr. Frederick Douglass as their neighbor and friend. Many men and women had their elementary school graduations at Cedar Hill. The history of Cedar Hill is the history of a neighborhood and its inhabitants protecting, guarding and preserving Mr. Douglass’ memory for generations so now people like you can safely genuflect and speculate. Understand that, sir.
As you are an alleged “Douglass expert,” whose career has been almost exclusively built as a white, European man discussing race and the history of black folk in this country it’s the least you could do to offer respect for the Asiatic community of Old Anacostia. But you show no respect. You are only about yourself and those within the Ivory Tower institutions who for decades have patted you on the back.
You show yourself to be a disgrace to the Douglassonian tradition at every turn and every word.
This past Wednesday, February 7, 2018, you spoke in Baltimore at the Maryland Historical Society. There were representatives from the Office of Governor Larry Hogan in attendance along with other luminaries.
When given this platform to discuss Mr. Douglass you peddled in your usual speculative history. More importantly, you did not acknowledge many things occurring around the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial you should have. It is not all about you, Prof. Blight. It’s about the heritage and legacy of Mr. Douglass and the younger generation.
The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is involved in ongoing effort to raise up One Million Abolitionists by distributing 1,000,000 special edition copies of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave to school-aged children throughout the country.
You did not mention this important effort to your rapt audience. You did not mention members of the Douglass-Bailey family. You did not acknowledge anyone or anything other than yourself and your own perceived authority on Mr. Douglass.
It is not about you, sir. It is not about me. It is about honoring Mr. Douglass and passing on his legacy to the next generation.
As a youngster growing up in Maryland I read Narrative in junior high school. I had a poster of Mr. D on my wall throughout high school. When I began working for the UPO nearly a decade ago in the neighborhood where Cedar Hill is located I always thought there was a reason God deployed me to W Street SE.
In Baltimore, on W Street SE, in Rochester, in Talbot County, in Savannah, Georgia, at Howard University and anywhere and everywhere from the Tuckahoe to Paris to Egypt where the name Frederick Douglass rings the bells of the Gods of not only American History but the history of civilization you will understand it is about the younger generation. It is about liberation of mind, body and soul. It is about uplifting fallen humanity.
Don’t you ever say “Freddy D” out your mouth ever again, whether in private or in public in front of an audience of primarily aged Europeans.
You do not have that right and I am letting you know you do not have that right with the full force of all the founding members of 16th & W Street SE Douglassonians.
We have never seen you come around the way. Never.
As a history professor at one of the world’s most prestigious universities I invite you to come to the corner and have a discussion. Try to teach your speculative Douglass history and you will be taught what Mr. Douglass truly means to people in a way you can never understand.
You do not own Mr. Douglass and his memory. Nor do I. No one does. Mr. Douglass lived his life to uplift all of fallen humanity. Mr. D was a friend to the friendless.
For thirty years you have exerted unearned power and control over the history of Frederick Douglass in not just this country but the world. Many, many elite institutions are guilty of elevating your mediocrity to the level of honor, including Washington College.
You sir, are no honor to Douglass. You are a disgrace.
The point of this letter is to kindly suggest you mention the One Million Abolitionists project moving forward, especially during your appearance at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site on the weekend of February 17 and February 18.
If you believe your self to be a Douglass scholar I’d kindly suggest you use the opportunities you’ve been given to uplift Douglass to the younger generation and the average man and woman in the community.
In conclusion, this is not about you. It’s about uplifting and liberating the next generation of youngsters, those whose birthright is to know the Douglassonian tradition is theirs to inherit.
Co-Founder, 16th & W Street Douglassonians
1400 block of W Street SE
Updated: “Women in the World of Frederick Douglass” wins award for Distinguished Scholarship. Dr. Leigh Fought uplifting Douglassonian studies for current and future generations.
In recent days we’ve caught chatter Women in the World of Frederick Douglass by Dr. Leigh Fought, Associate History Professor at Le Moyne College, has been selected for a book award recognizing distinguished scholarship.
In truth, there are less than 100 original works of book matter scholarship on Douglass. Dr. Fought’s book upon publication immediately became a top 20 work, if not a top 10 work.
The permanence and prominence of Dr. Fought’s book in the limited pantheon of Douglass Studies will surely grow in time as it will become a foundational text. True scholars need not worry about the out-sized and distortive role Love Across Color Lines has played for nearly two decades. Dr. Fought is Omar out here and has relegated Diedrich’s “inventive” work to where it belongs.
Henceforth all informed advisers for graduate students and self-professed FD scholars and “experts” must use Dr. Fought’s book and public scholarship as a starting point for the discovery of the variety of networks FD had with not only women reformists, humanists, journalists, suffragists but activists from all walks of life.
Dr. Fought is a Douglassonian in both her scholarship and deportment.
Dr. Fought will be delivering a keynote, “The Women of Cedar Hill,” at the Frederick Douglass Annual Birthday Celebration to be held at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Park at 1411 W Street SE in Old Anacostia, D.C. on Sunday, February 18, 2018. Dr. Fought’s address will be at 3:00 pm.
Without any fanfare or ceremony the co-founders of 16th & W Street Douglassonians awarded Dr. Fought a lifetime passport for the 1-6 and all of Old Anacostia many months ago. It was one of the first actions taken in our informal board meetings.
In January I ran into Harold Holzer doing research within the Manuscripts Reading Room of the Madison Building. During closing time, as researchers gathered their things, I exchanged a few words with the internationally known Lincolnonian scholar.
It was unclear if Holzer knew specifically about Dr. Fought’s book or was simply confused in our conversation, relaying something along the lines that he thought “women’s studies” within the field of FD Studies was the current and/or new trend line.
Accompanied by a Douglassonian friend, we made sure Holzer knew the baseball card statistics and details of Dr. Fought’s book: Oxford University Press. May 2017. Women in the World of Frederick Douglass. ISBN, etc. All that.
I told him to know about the book. The message was received.
I then proceeded to tell Mr. Holzer that David Blight, who he confirmed he knew by referencing his long, long, long talked about biography, was a disgrace to Frederick Douglass, the man and Frederick Douglass, the self-taught scholar.
I told Mr. Holzer I represent street corner historians, 16th & W Street Douglassonians, and among my current work on Frederick Douglass in Paris, I was committed to exposing Blight and the institutions that have supported his mediocrity and non-existent Douglass scholarship over the past decade and a half with full force and no mercy.
Holzer said he similarly didn’t have an advanced degree and could sympathize with my plight as an outsider waging battle as a lone warrior against the safety and protective comfort of the Ivory Towers.
Holzer said facts and research will carry the day at the end of the day. For Omar and Super-Omars of FD studies there’s only a single word we can say to that truth.
Prof. Fought’s status as anything related to 16th & W Street Douglassonians has been immediately revoked as of Thursday, July 30.
SAVE DATE: April 15 –> Douglassonian Robert Levine speaks on forthcoming book, “Frederick Douglass’s Lives”
Robert Levine, Professor of English at the University of Maryland, will give a talk drawing from his forthcoming book, Frederick Douglass’s Lives (Harvard University Press, 2016).
Where: 1957 E Street NW, City View Room (on George Washington University Campus) [Nearest Metro: Farragut West – Blue / Orange]
About Robert S. Levine:
The impressively prolific Bob Levine has been an influential force in American and African American literature for thirty years, and more recently has contributed important new work to the burgeoning field of hemispheric American literature. His prominent publications, such as 2008’s Dislocating Race and Nation, 1997’s Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity, and 1989’s Conspiracy and Romance: Studies in Brockden Brown, Cooper, Hawthorne, and Melville, cover an array of themes critical to an understanding of 19th-century American literature. In addition, Levine’s numerous scholarly editions of Melville, Hawthorne, Martin Delany, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe have helped restore lesser known works to wider audiences.
Levine is a highly visible figure in literary circles, sitting on the editorial boards of American Literary History, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, serving as General Editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, and as editor of numerous volumes of collected criticism, including Hemispheric American Studies (co-edited with Caroline Levander) and The New Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville. His recent awards include a 2012-13 National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship and a 2013-14 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He was recently named a Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M’s Institute for Advanced Study.
This two-minute clip deals with the differing missions of Douglass and Lincoln, the limitations and possibilities Douglass saw in the Emancipation Proclamation and some of the most meaningful stories Paul and Stephen Kendrick, authors of Douglass and Lincoln, found about Douglass’ soldier sons and others.
Video by Chris Bryant.