Posts Tagged Rochester
Mediocre speculations continue; Yale Professor David Blight demonstrates lack of rudimentary knowledge of sophisticated business mind and acumen of Dr. Frederick Douglass
We know the scholarship. We know Yale Professor David Blight does not truly know the scholarship. Professor Blight is little more than a reiteration of McFeely and Deidrich.
We know Blight’s limited bibliography of original Douglass research. We know his past and current positions within AHA, New York Historical Society, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition and elsewhere. We know there are others that question David Blight’s limited scholarship and troubled interpretations.
We know Blight’s White Man Lies. We know his perverted racist fantasies. We know without a happenstance introduction to Douglass family scrapbooks within the collection of Dr. Walter O. Evans Professor Blight would have not written his deeply flawed, although widely praised, book on Dr. Douglass.
We know when applied pressure to exhaust his scholastic understanding of Dr. Douglass Blight woefully tells on himself, betraying an incredible lack of depth and scope of understanding.
In the course of “agitating” Washington College earlier this year Professor Blight was asked to answer a simple question. Blight demonstrated he doesn’t know diddley about Dr. Douglass and The University yet that didn’t stop Washington College from providing him a stage for his racism. Blight was paid to tell “White Man Lies” then and continues to be paid to lie.
Blight has no clue. He has done nothing to bring up the next generation of Douglass scholars. He has established no journal. No conference. For years he has held summer workshops to communicate his “White Man Lies” and twisted perversions, such as insinuations on the symbolism and meaning of the “Growlery” on Cedar Hill, to impressionable educators.
Blight is all sizzle, no steak. Blight is all rhetoric, no scholarship.
The selfish, manipulative, dishonest and petty Blight is a disgrace to Master Educator William Alston-El who instructed me to not allow anyone to lie on Dr. Douglass.
Blight is not a Douglass Scholar. Blight is just a dude with some buzz-fuzz words who has been around for a couple decades.
Our dear professor may be regarded as an educator at Yale but within the community of Old Anacostia Blight is known as someone who has traveled the world spreading lies about Dr. Douglass.
W Street Douglassonians do not take kindly to anyone disrespecting Dr. Douglass.
Tell the truth to the world. Blight tells lies to the world.
In an interview with “Just The Right Book Podcast” Blight remarks:
He never earned a dime from 1841 until 1877 any other way than with voice and pen. How many people can do that? Now he had some help, too, from his British friends …
Not true. Documents and scholarship does not support this assertion. Blight has neither documents nor scholarship despite studying Dr. Douglass across four decades. This is the best he can do?
Although Blight uses the above misstatement to laud Dr. Douglass — and qualifies it somewhat — it is nonetheless an example of Blight’s glaring incomplete understanding of Dr. Douglass and the respective field of scholarship. Although heralded for 30 years as an “expert” in the field of Douglass Studies, Blight’s expertise is limited and limiting.
In Rochester and Washington City Dr. Douglass invested in real estate. I’ve seen the records in DC folios and libers. They exist. Street historians, community historians, local historians and professionals historians and educators know.
For example, I suggest reading journalist-historian Sally Parker’s wonderful article, “Preserving Family Memories by Remembering an Icon,” in the Spring 2018 edition of the New York Archives which discusses some of Dr. Douglass’ Rochester real estate dealings:
In Blight’s talks, which I have studied — since, you know, he is an alleged Douglass expert and he cites my book 8 times — he has yet to mention just one time the groundbreaking scholarship, If I Survive by Prof. Celeste-Marie Bernier. If I Survive includes select materials of the Walter O. Evans Collection.
As evidence of Blight’s absence of integrity he has yet to mention Prof. Bernier’s book once. The paperback edition of If I Survive is priced at $20 in a deliberate and calculated effort to reach as many students of Douglass, primary source-bound educators, community and street historians and those who carry history with honor and integrity. Being that Blight has no honor and no integrity he fails at every turn to mention and acknowledge this groundbreaking scholarship.
David Blight, a renowned historian whose new book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, has been published to glowing reviews, will be in Rochester Dec. 3 and 4 for two engagements co-sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology.
Blight will be the featured speaker at “Prophet of Freedom: Frederick Douglass in Word and Song,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 Plymouth Ave., Rochester.
The event, co-sponsored by the University of Rochester, also includes musical performances.
It is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged.
Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University, wrote his book after a decade of research on Douglass—who spent much of his life in Rochester and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.
The book, which reviewers have called “monumental,” “moving” and “brilliant,” includes new insights from a private collection of letters on the Douglass family. Blight says Douglass was not only among the most famous Americans of the 19th century, but one of the nation’s most original and enduring voices.
The event at Hochstein will pay special attention to Rochester’s importance in Douglass’s life. The program will take place on the 171st anniversary of the inaugural edition of Frederick Douglass’s first newspaper, The North Star, which he published on Dec. 3, 1847, soon after arriving in Rochester. Blight’s lecture will occur in the same venue where Douglass’s funeral was held in 1895, when it was Central Presbyterian Church.
Blight will sign copies of his book after the presentation. RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection has created a bookplate inspired by Douglass’s The North Star newspaper and printed on an iron hand press. The bookplate image will be inserted in copies of Blight’s books.
The program will also feature special musical performances, including a rendition of “Farewell Song of Frederick Douglass,” a rare piece of sheet music recently acquired by the University of Rochester. Originally published in 1847 in Great Britain, where Douglass fled to avoid re-enslavement after publishing his first autobiography, the song depicts Douglass as a heroic freedom fighter.
A spiritual invocation and benediction will be offered by three members of the Rochester clergy—Rev. Julius Jackson, Muhammad Shafiq and Rabbi Peter Stein—and several spirituals will be performed by Thomas Warfield, director of dance at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
“We are thrilled to co-sponsor this event with the University of Rochester and bring David Blight to Frederick Douglass’s longtime home,” said Richard Newman, a history professor at RIT.
“This exciting program will allow the entire city to more deeply reflect on the life and legacy of Douglass during the bicentennial of his birth,” said Jessica Lacher-Feldman, assistant dean and the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation at UR.
On Dec. 4, Blight will join Kenneth Morris Jr., a direct descendant of Douglass, at a program on RIT’s campus, “American Diversity & Frederick Douglass: Lessons from the Prophet of Freedom,” from 10 a.m. to noon in Wegmans Theater in the MAGIC Spell Studios Building at RIT.
It is free, but registration is required.
The first hour will feature commentary by Robert Benz, co-founder and executive vice-president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, an advocacy organization dedicated to community outreach; Carvin Eison, project director for Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee; and Olivia Kim, adjunct professor in RIT’s School of Art and Design, who was commissioned to produce 13 statues of Douglass during the city’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial this year. The second hour will feature a dialogue between Blight and Morris on the life of Douglass.
Blight will sign books immediately after the discussion, which is sponsored by RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, Department of History, Faculty Career Development in the Innovative Learning Institute, The Caroline Werner Gannett Chair in Digital Humanities, the School of Individualized Study, and the Center for Statesmanship, Law and Liberty.
Full story HERE!
“Frederick Douglass in Rochester with John Muller” at Writers and Books (September 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
September 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
With the continued recognition of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial throughout the year join Washington, D.C.-based journalist and historian John Muller for a presentation beyond the common lore and mythology of Dr. Frederick Douglass.
John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012), will share largely unknown and previously unpublished material on the activities, experiences and relationships of Dr. Frederick Douglass and his family in Rochester and Monroe County, New York within the community of newspaper editors and journalists, abolitionists, reformists and educators.
Learn how Douglass’ extensive Rochester network sustained him and frequently visited the Douglass family in Washington City.
Additionally, Muller will provide updates on Bicentennial activities in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore-Eastern Shore area.
PowerPoint Presentation, Audience Q & A, books available for sale.
Writers & Books
740 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
Frederick Douglass, Rochester Quakers and Social Reforms in the 19th Century (Sunday, August 5, 2018)
Quaker historian Judith Wellman and Justin Murphy of the Democrat and Chronicle will discuss Douglass’ Quaker connections in Rochester and his role in desegregating Rochester’s public schools. David Shakes will recite portions of Douglass’ speeches, and historian David Anderson will be honored for his career’s work on Douglass.
84 Scio St. (Map)
Sunday, August 5, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
“Making the case for Frederick Douglass’ connection with UR,” Jim Memmott, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [July 18, 2018]
[This article ran in the Democrat and Chronicle on July 18, 2018. Thank you, Mr. Jim Memmott.]
Original article HERE!
The abolitionist Frederick Douglass was an emancipated slave with no formal education. Most certainly, he never went to college; however, it would seem that college came to him, honoring his intellect, praising his achievements.
John Muller, the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, makes a special case for a connection between Douglass and the University of Rochester and its president, Martin Brewer Anderson.
“The friendly relationship between Douglass and (the) Rev. Martin B. Anderson, as well as faculty and students at the University of Rochester, is pivotal to understanding Douglass’ Rochester years,” Muller wrote in an email. “… The mutual respect President Anderson and Douglass had for each other demonstrates how Douglass was uniquely supported by the ‘learned community’ in Rochester and the contributions he made to the intellectual vitality of Rochester as one of its leading citizens.”
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth in Maryland as a slave. To mark the anniversary, the UR awarded Douglass a posthumous honorary doctor of laws degree in May. (Full disclosure: I teach journalism at UR.)
The degree recognized the fact that Douglass had been a leading abolitionist and published The North Star while living in Rochester from 1847 to 1872. He then moved to Washington, D.C., after his house on South Avenue burned down.
The time Douglass spent in Rochester overlapped with the early years of the UR, which was founded in 1850. Three years later, Martin Brewer Anderson became the university’s first president.
Muller lives in Washington and is a grandson of the late William B. Hemmer, a professor at The College of Brockport. He maintains a blog, thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com (Anacostia is the Washington neighborhood in which Douglass lived).
In the blog, Muller points to a letter of thanks that Douglass wrote to Anderson in 1868 after Anderson had helped him arrange a speech at another university. Anderson was also a member of a committee that commissioned Rochester sculptor Johnson Mundy to create a bust of Douglass. At the dedication ceremony in 1879, he spoke glowingly of Douglass.
“(Frederick Douglass) was a man born in slavery,” Anderson said, “but by a display of indomitable energy and a never wavering courage he raised himself to the level of the foremost orators, philanthropists and emancipators of the day.”
As Muller notes, Galusha Anderson (no relation to Martin Anderson), a student at the UR in the 1850s who later became the president of the University of Chicago, also had high praise for Frederick Douglass.
He wrote how UR students would gather in the library to read the new issues of The North Star. “He never had a day’s schooling in his life, yet he gripped and delighted college students,” Galusha Anderson wrote in 1916.
Anderson went on to write that “Pres. Martin B. Anderson of the university warmly befriended (Douglass), suggested much to him in conversations and commended to him useful books.”
Melissa S. Mead, the university’s archivist and Rochester Collections librarian, says that research into the connection between Frederick Douglass and Martin Anderson is ongoing.
However, the university doesn’t have Anderson’s outgoing mail in its collection. “It’s possible that he sent letters to Douglass, but we have no way of knowing that,” Mead says.
It should be noted, too, that the enthusiasm for Douglass did not translate quickly into the admission of African-American students at UR. Charles Augustus Thomson, class of 1891, was the first African-American to graduate; Beatrice Amaza Howard, class of 1931, was the first African-American woman to graduate.
A bust of Douglass was first placed in Sibley Hall on the old campus of the university. It is now on display in Frederick Douglass Commons on the university’s River Campus. Thus, Douglass is a familiar presence at the UR, perhaps as he was while living here.
Honoring the dead
William H. Cooper Marine Post No. 603 of the American Legion will conduct a ceremony at 11 a.m. July 18 in Mt. Hope Cemetery, noting the 100th anniversary of the death of its namesake.
Born in Rochester in 1892, Sgt. Cooper was an electrician when he enlisted in April 1917. Sent to France in October, he was killed in action July 18, 1918.
On Remarkable Rochester
Retired Senior Editor Jim Memmott reflects on what makes Rochester distinctively Rochester, its history, its habits, its people. Since 2010, he has also been compiling a list of Remarkable Rochesterians.
Let’s add the names of this college president to the list of Remarkable Rochesterians that can be found at at rochester.nydatabases.com:
Martin B. Anderson (1815-1890): He became the first president of the University of Rochester in 1853 and served for 35 years, retiring in 1888. Born in Maine, he graduated from Waterville College (now Colby College), attended Newton Theological Institution in Massachusetts, and later returned to Waterville to teach. He went on to edit a Baptist newspaper in New York City until he came to UR, where, in addition to his presidential duties, he lectured on philosophy, constitutional law and other subjects. He also oversaw the move of the college from a hotel to a new campus on Prince Street.
“Five Hundred Years Hence Rochester’s Chief Title to Historic Fame Will be The Fact That It Was the Home of Douglass,” [“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866]
As the Bicentennial marches on I have ventured afield from W Street SE across the Chesapeake to the Shore, up the road to Baltimore and further north to Rochester, New York to do what little I can to uplift fallen and unknown history.
To say the least, the largely indifferent attitude I have encountered in contemporary Rochester to the history of Douglass in that city seems to be the continuation of a longstanding history of indifference.
Without further editorializing or ado …
Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.
“Five hundred years hence,” said Thompson the noted English agitator in Corinthian Hall some fifteen years ago – “five hundred years hence Rochester’s chief title to historic fame will be the fact that it was the home of Douglass.”
Yet while such is the high appreciation of Fred. Douglass by the Radicals and Abolitionists of foreign lands, the Radicals of Rochester regard him in no other light than a tool to be used to get votes for the “white trash” who control the Radical party, and carry off its officers and its honors.
The Radical party profess to go for Political Equality between Blacks and Whites. They propose to force Negro Equality upon the South at any cost – even that of another Civil War, if milder “persuasives” prove unavailing. But, while they hold that attitude before this country and the whole Christian world, they practically repudiate their avowed principles here where they have the power and the opportunity to assert them, and to illustrate their devotion to the Black race, by doing honor to its most distinguished representative.
Frederick Douglass is unquestionably a man of a higher order of talent. His moral character is unimpeachable. His is in our judgement the ablest and most accomplished man which the Black and mixed races have produced on this continent. If any man of his color ever was or ever will be entitles to a seat in Congress and full recognition of his Equality with the White race, assuredly he is that man.
Here he is, in a District overwhelmingly “Black Republican:” yet he is denied a nomination to Congress; denied a seat in the Radical State Convention; denied a seat in the Radical Conventions to nominate candidates for Congress and other offices, and turned off with the empty honor of going to Philadelphia to make votes for the “white trash” whom the Radicals of the District select for every really desirable place.
Will not the Tribune and Independent rebuke their fellow-partisans here their selfishness and insincerity?
Will they compare the sentiments of Mr. Hart, as set forth in his own language in another article, with the treatment of Mr. Douglass by Mr. Hart and his friends, and tell their readers what they think of such arrant hypocrisy and imposture?
“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866, p. 3.