Celebration series launched to commemorate historic visit of Fredrick Douglass

Celebration series launched to commemorate historic visit of Fredrick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. George K. Warren. (National Archives Gift Collection)

A celebration series has been launched to commemorate an historic visit 175 years ago by a formerly enslaved man, who had escaped from bondage in Maryland to become a leader of the movement to end slavery in the United States.

Fredrick Douglass was an African-American abolitionist who, between 1845-1846, lectured to packed audiences across Ireland, which included Cork. 

During his four month tour of Ireland, he met with Daniel O’Connell, a major inspiration in his fight against injustice. 

Douglass wrote in glowing terms of his trip. “I can truly say I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life.” 

To commemorate this historic visit, University College Cork academics in collaboration with students, artists, writers and community groups around Ireland have launched #DouglassWeek with the support of the Frederick Douglass Family.

The event will run from the 8th-14th February 2021 and will feature a variety of performative events, creative installations and critical discussions, offering a collection of responses to Douglass’s footprint in Ireland.

Dr Caroline Schroeter, coordinator of the event series, explains that “Douglass Week aims to connect people who share an interest and passion for Frederick Douglas. It also offers a platform for people to discuss contemporary issues related to his life and legacy: racism and racial justice, human and civil rights activism, social activism, refugee crises, American-Irish relations, creative forms of commemoration, and other related topics that remain relevant in the 21st century.” 

 Dr Tim Groenland who is a co-ordinator of the event programme is looking forward to the event. 

“We are hoping that members of the public, schools, universities and community groups will respond to this call and celebrate a historic encounter that was transformative for Douglass and those he met.”

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