Ready to hail a local hero
Frederick Douglass Day set for Sept. 23
EASTON — The Frederick Douglass Honor Society, Town of Easton and Talbot County Free Library invite Talbot County residents and visitors to celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.
The event features a parade, welcome ceremony, children’s village, live entertainment, marketplace, lectures, art exhibit, and a tour of “The Hill.” All activities are free and open to the public.
Talbot County’s most famous native son, Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in 1818. As a young child, Douglass faced over whelming adversity. He seldom saw his mother who worked as a field hand, barely had enough clothes to cover his body, and consumed food from a trough like a farmyard animal. As he grew old enough to work, Douglass found himself under the control of multiple masters — some tolerant and others implacable.
Despite his environment and struggles, Douglass remained steadfast and enraptured by a burning desire to read and write. While Thomas Auld’s wife Sophie read the Bible to Douglass, he began to question the spelling of the words she spoke. The moment Auld realized his wife was teaching Frederick to read, he immediately halted the sessions. However, Douglass was determined; he continued to find ways to learn — from the boys he played with and sometimes trading bread just for an opportunity to look at their schoolbooks. At the age of twleve, he used his savings (fifty cents) to purchase a copy of the Columbian Orator, a book filled with famous speeches. After intensely studying the book, sharpening his skills and gaining knowledge of the world at large, it was apparent to Douglass that he could not live his life as a slave.
In 1838, he borrowed identification papers of a free black sailor and took a train heading nor th, stopping in New Bedford, Mass. Finding
freedom was a monumental task but it was just the beginning for Douglass. Within a few years, he became famous as an abolitionist, worldknown orator and author. He was such a brilliant orator that people doubted he lived as a slave. As one American observer recalled, “He was more than six feet in height, and his majestic form, as he rose to speak, straight as an arrow, muscular, yet lithe and graceful, his flashing eye, and more than all, his voice, that rivaled Daniel Webster’s in its richness and in depth and sonorousness of its cadences, made up such an ideal of an orator as the listeners never forget.”
According to the Cornell University Press, Douglass served as an agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slaver y Society, edited four newspapers and championed many reform movements. He was the only man who played a prominent role in the 1848 meeting in Seneca Falls that formally launched the women’s rights movement. A staunch defender of the Liberty and Republican parties, Douglass held several political appointments, frequently corresponded with leading politicians, and advised Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Harrison. He met with John Brown before the abortive raid on Harpers Ferry, helped to recruit African American troops during the Civil War, attended national black conventions held between 1840 and 1895, and served as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti.
The wealth of Douglass’s accomplishments are marked in our nation’s history, books, documentaries, movies, and museums. He spent his entire life reading, writing, lecturing, and working for justice and equality for all. His eloquent and brilliant romance with words inspired the minds and touched the hearts of people of all ages around the world. His quotations are timeless, reflect his strength, and breathe of his intelligence and talent, which enabled him to share his thoughts, principles, and conscience.
Douglass’ story will always be meaningful and timeless because his life’s journey made the world a better place. No one knows the story of Douglass better than Kenneth Morris Jr. Traveling from the West Coast to serve as the Frederick Douglass Day’s keynote speaker, his lecture will begin at 1 p.m. at the Talbot County Free Library. Ken is the greatgreat-great grandson of Frederick Douglass, great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington, and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
“This year we are honored and privileged to have a descendent from two of the most important names in American History. Kenneth Morris Jr. has embraced his heritage by the founding of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, a 501c3 public charity. The sharing of knowledge was at the core of the work and philosophies of both Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and resides at the heart of the family’s work today in human trafficking and other human rights challenges,” Eric Lowery, president of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, said.
Frederick Douglass Day kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m. (Glenwood Avenue to Washington to Federal streets). The welcome ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Talbot County Court House by the Frederick Douglass monument with Mistress of Ceremonies Jaylen Howie, a senior at Easton High School. The Easton Middle School Band and Kaitlyn Cherry will provide music. Guest speakers include Robert Willey, Mayor of the Town of Easton; Jennifer Williams, Talbot County Council; Eric Lowery, Frederick Douglass Honor Society; Kelly Griffith, Talbot County Public Schools; and Dana Newman, Talbot County Free Library. Reverend Roland Brown, Union Baptist Church, will provide the Invocation. Bill Peak, Talbot County’s Library Guy, will read “Frederick Douglass,” a poem by Robert Hayden. Easton High School ROTC will present the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance led by BAAM.
The Children’s Village (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) will be located on the front lawn of the Talbot County Free Library. Highlights include a variety of hands-on fun and visual experiences. Watch, listen, color and learn activities inspire children and family members to explore history, discover their creativity, and reap rewards (prizes) for learning about Douglass. Children will receive a complimentary In His Own Words Coloring Book depicting a few of his famous quotes, images, and more. “Where in the World is Frederick Douglass?” offers an opportunity to discover places Douglass traveled. Face painting, bubbles, balloons, and colors fill the village and children will love watching the new Frederick Douglass video.
Dr. Lorenzo Hughes has an exciting lineup of performers at his entertainment stage located on West Street between Dover Street and Glenwood Avenue. The lineup includes Union Baptist Church Mass Choir, Easton Middle School Choir, Scott’s United Methodist Youth Choir, and DJ Allen Butler, Kim Wilson-Blake Praise Dance, and Hip-Hop Artists Amillion the Poet, and Jamaal “Mr. Root” Collier. The stage is open from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Created in the spirit of the televised “Amazing Race,” a set of clues will lead participants to amazing pieces of Talbot County’s history. A package of maps and clues await your arrival at the registration desk located in front of the Talbot County Free Library starting at 11:30 a.m. Discover new facts and history about the county and Douglass while scoring opportunities to walk away with exciting prizes. It is great fun for family members and/or friends alike.
Located on West Street between Glenwood and Dover streets, across from the Talbot County Free Library, the marketplace will feature regional food vendors, retail vendors, and local and regional organizations. Festivalgoers will be tempted by the traditional Eastern Shore cuisine, while retail, crafts, and other vendors offer great merchandise, and not-forprofit organizations share volunteer and community opportunities.
The Talbot County Free Library, located on the corner of Dover and West streets, will host the lecture series in their large meeting room. Kenneth Morris Jr.’s lecture is 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. with questions and answers from 2 to 2:15 p.m. Artworks for Freedom will host a panel discussion from 2:30 to 4 p.m. addressing human trafficking. Panelists include: Steven J. Hess, law enforcement coordinator and victim-witness manager, U.S. Attorney’s Office; Michelle Harding, senior leader of Church of King, Founder and President of Life by Design, and member of the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force; and Ed Thomas, co-chairman of the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force and Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator, Aglow MidAtlantic. Moderator Joseph Prud’homme is the founding director of the Institute for Reglion, Politics and Culture at Washington College in Chestertown and associate professor of political science.
A special exhibit, “The Anonime” (Anonymous) series by the Albanian artist Brikena Boci is a collection of fourteen hand embroidered faces of women who the artist has memorialized in her own way. Many of these women during and after the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999 found themselves as refugees in Albania. This middle European countr y was in economic ruin when it emerged from communism in 1992. High rates of poverty and unemployment, a crumbling infrastructure and corrupt elected officials made the nation a fertile ground for child trafficking. At the age of 16, Brikena and her family found themselves helping these refugees and hearing their stories, which made a huge impact on the artist’s soul. She developed a passion and dedication in her art using textiles and paint to create vibrant, whimsical portraits of empowered female figures. The exhibit, provided as a courtesy of Artworks for Freedom, is on display at the Talbot County Free Librar y.
Professor Dale Glenwood Green will lead a guided walking tour of “The Hill,” believed to be the oldest free African American community in the nation. The tour is free and open to the public. Participants will meet at the Talbot County Court House and depart for the tour at 4 p.m. A new highlight of this year’s tour is an open house at the Talbot County Women’s Club (18 Talbot Lane) until 5:30 p.m.
For more information on Frederick Douglass Day, please visit www.frederick douglassday.com, www.fred erickdouglasshonorsociety. org, or follow the Frederick Douglass Day Facebook page.
Photographic portrait of Frederick Douglass
The bronze statue of Frederick Douglass is framed by American flags on June 30, just before the July 4 weekend.
Devel Walley, left, gets a chance to see the Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass, on loan from the National Park Service, on display in 2015 at the Talbot County Free Library in honor of Frederick Douglass Day.