Frederick Douglass’s 199th Birthday

When: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – 11:45 am to 1:15 pm. The program will begin promptly at noon.

Where: Mt. Hope Cemetery, 1133 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, New York 14620.

· Wecome and introduction
· Contemporary inspirations/testimonials: Shawn Dunwoody, Banke Awopetu-McCullough, Lu Highsmith, Thomas Warfield
· Attendee participation/recitation of FD quotes
· Frederick Douglass reenactment by David Shakes/North Star Players
· Interfaith prayer led by Melanie Duguid-May

The #ROCDouglass Consortium presents a celebration of the 199th anniversary* of Frederick Douglass’ birth on February 14, 2017 -at his gravesite in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.

According to New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, “Douglass was one of the most brilliant thinkers, writers, orators America has ever produced. Furthermore, he harnessed and mastered the media of his day. Writing an acclaimed autobiography, establishing his own newspaper and becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century.”

Blow is not alone in his esteem, President Abraham Lincoln called Frederick Douglass “one of the most meritorious men, if not the most meritorious man in the United States.”

Frederick Douglass was a citizen of Rochester, New York during one of the most consequential chapters of his illustrious life. He established The North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper, in the city in 1847. The newspaper’s motto was prescient- with a 21st century-like understanding of the intersectionality of oppression. The motto was “Right is of no sex-Truth is of no color-God is the father of us all, and we are brethren.”

Unlike more modern men and women who can tell the day and exact time they were born and under what moon, it seems especially important to commemorate Douglass’ birthday because of the relative inconsequentiality of slave’s births. In the “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” Douglass said – “I never met with a slave in that part of the country who could tell me with any certainty how old he was. Few at that time knew anything of the months of the year or the days of the month. They measured the ages of their children by spring-time, winter-time, harvest-time, planting-time, and the like. Masters allowed no questions concerning their ages to be put to them by slaves. I suppose myself to have been born in 1817.” Subsequent slave records of his mother have identified his year of birth as 1818.

*Frederick Douglass was born in 1818, but per his autobiography, “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” he was born in about 1817.

The event producers, #ROCDouglass Consortium – consists of three members/organizations, including:

· Neelum Films, Mara Ahmed
· Amanda Chestnut
· 21st Century Arts, Rachel DeGuzman

Produced in affiliation with:

Flower City Arts Center
Writers & Books
North Star Players
DUNWOODĒ Visual Consulting
PeaceArt International
City of Rochester Mount Hope Cemetery
The M.K. Gandhi Institute
Frederick Douglass Institute for African-American Studies: University of Rochester
The Islamic Center of Rochester
RCTV Rochester’s Community Media Center
Boxcar Press
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Rochester Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace
Kuumba Consultants

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