Discovering Frederick Douglass

Discovering Frederick Douglass

doug-new

Mt. Hope Cemetery, 1/7/18 [Photo: David Kramer]

17 Douglass 200 headerEspecially in Rochester, 2018 will be the year of Frederick Douglass as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. Already dozens of events have been planned.  See Frederick Douglass Bicentennial

Frederick Douglass has a special place in the magazine.  Two September’s ago, George Payne offered Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words, including Shawn Dunwoody’s mural of Douglass on West Main Street.

dunwoody

Shawn Dunwoody’s mural From Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words [Photo: George Payne]

George’s piece reminded me how much more there is to know about Douglass. The statue of Douglass in Highland Park is familiar, but I didn’t realize the extent to which Douglass aided the underground railroad at Kelsey’s Landing in Maplewood Park.

Recently, through the hard work of the Lower Falls Foundation, Kelsey’s Landing was designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site.

statue

From Fred DouglasS gets his due [Photo: David Kramer]

Dr. David Anderson performing as Frederick Douglass at Kelsey's Landing

Dr. David Anderson performing as Frederick Douglass at Kelsey’s Landing From Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words

Many of us know Dr. David Anderson who performs as Douglass in many venues, including Kelsey’s Landing. Dr. Anderson once kindly visited the American Literature class I taught at St. John Fisher College wearing his ubiquitous Douglass top hat and dark overcoat costume. In December, Dr. Anderson gained a well deserved honor by being named to Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission.

Anderson

Dr. Anderson (left) with NYS Senator Charles Schumer From “Rochester professor named to Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission” (D & C)

Since George’s article, I’ve kept my eyes out for Douglass.  And he’s everywhere.

At an August,  2016 event at the Susan B. Anthony House, I reacquainted myself with Pepsy Kettavong’s “Let’s Have Tea” in Anthony Square. See Passing the torch at the Susan B. Anthony House

My Douglass antennae alert, by chance, I saw his bust in the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library.

douglass

In the Rush Rhees Library From Fred DouglasS gets his due [Photo: David Kramer]

Then I had a second chance encounter with Douglass. Last winter, we were sledding at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.  Afterwards, we went to the Samuel Colgate Memorial Chapel only to discover a bust of Douglass outside the Ambrose Swasey Library.  SEE A bust of Frederick Douglass at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Douglass cropped

At the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School 5/1/17 From A bust of Frederick Douglass at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School [Photo: David Kramer]

back-1

In a third chance encounter, I was at the Frederick Douglass Community Library on South Avenue when I discovered Shawn Dunwoody’s murals of Douglass.  That was three Douglass sightings that were all new to me. Incidentally, at the library I met filmmaker Shabaka Mu Asar of Utchat Vision. Shabaka was taking video for a documentary on the Underground Railroad that will highlight Douglass.

Sahbaka

Filmmaker Shabaka Mu Asar was working on a documentary on the Underground Railroad. 4/17/17/ See Fred DouglasS gets his due

bill

Bill Pruitt performing Two Kinds of Fear at the Brighton Memorial Library. From Storyteller Bill Pruitt interweaves the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

Later, I had a different Douglass sighting when I attended Bill Pruitt’s  performance Two Kinds of Fear that explores the intersecting lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. See Storyteller Bill Pruitt interweaves the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

The other day I went to Mt. Hope Cemetery to see if Douglass’ grave stone would be covered with snow by the latest storm.  On the way, I met Jeff, a young man who admires Douglass for helping free the slaves, is quite familiar with Frederick Douglass Memorial Square and is looking forward to the Bicentennial events.

6. Jeff

Jeff admires Douglass for helping free the slaves, is quite familiar with Frederick Douglass Memorial Square and is looking forward to the Bicentennial events. 1/7/18

 

3. Douglas flag

Banner outside Mt. Hope Cemetery 1/7/18

The grave site only had a thin covering of snow (SEE FEATURED PIC).  “Frederick Douglass: 1818 – 1895”

2. Plaque

1. office Mt. Hope

Douglass items available in the Mt. Hope Cemetery office.

SEE

Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words

Passing the torch at the Susan B. Anthony House

Fred DouglasS gets his due

A bust of Frederick Douglass at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester

Storyteller Bill Pruitt interweaves the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

Donate

Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts

Loading

%d bloggers like this: