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Honors for Frederick Douglass in an Age of Racial Reckoning

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Frederick Douglass' 1845 autobiography about life as a slave became an international bestseller, and his message rings true today as protests against racial violence continue. (Wikimedia Commons)
Frederick Douglass' 1845 autobiography about life as a slave became an international bestseller, and his message rings true today as protests against racial violence continue. (Wikimedia Commons)
September 25, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - As racially-charged protests continue across the country, tomorrow Maryland celebrates one of the nation's first civil rights activists - Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass Day, held in his birthplace in eastern Maryland, highlights the prominent abolitionist's activism and continued influence. Keidrick Roy, a Harvard University Ph.D. candidate, will speak at the virtual event, which also features comments from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

Roy said Douglas once told a Black student that to become a great leader, you need to agitate - over and over again.

"Frederick Douglass's idea of continual agitation - continual pushing to make the United States a better place for everyone - is part of his legacy that we can still turn to today," said Roy.

The online event begins at 10 a.m. and includes lectures, children's activities and a dramatic reading. To participate, look online at the Frederick Douglass Honor Society's Facebook page.

Roy said examining Douglass's life and work indicates he would approve of today's Black Lives Matter movement, which continues to point out racial injustices. He cited Douglass's speech on what the Fourth of July meant to a slave as an example.

"When Douglass asks, 'What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?' And he says, 'I answer, a day that reveals to him - more than all the other days in the year - the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim,'" said Roy.

Talbot County officials just unveiled a new outdoor exhibit that tells Douglass's story as a slave who escaped a Maryland plantation and went on to become a national leader.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD