Online petition calls for street in Cork to be named after renowned civil rights campaigner

Online petition calls for street in Cork to be named after renowned civil rights campaigner

Back in June, Cork artist Kevin O'Brien paid tribute to Frederick Douglass with a painting on an electrical box on Grand Parade. 

A petition to name a street in Cork after abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass has been launched by two UCC staff members.

Speaking to The Echo, Dr Dónal Hassett a lecturer in the French Department at UCC who launched the campaign alongside his colleague Dr Caroline Schroeter, said he believes it is timely to pay tribute to the hero of the anti-slavery cause.

"I have an interest in public heritage and Caroline has done lots of research on Frederick Douglass. 

"This year marks the 175th anniversary of Douglass’ visit to Cork so we felt it was the right time for the city to honour this internationally renowned civil rights campaigner. 

"We also felt that such a move would allow Cork, a city that both benefited from the slave trade and was an important centre for anti-slavery activism, to show how a diverse, welcoming and progressive place it is for all its citizens," he said. 

Dr Hassett and Dr Schroeter have launched an online petition which at present has garnered over 3,000 signatures.

The campaign has also been welcomed by many city councillors.

Portrait of American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895), 1850s. Engraving by A. H. Ritchie. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895), 1850s. Engraving by A. H. Ritchie. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

"The proposal has met enthusiasm across the board on the City Council, with councillors from all the parties and independents expressing support in principle. 

"We are very grateful to the Cork Green Party who will be bringing a motion later this month to secure the Council’s approval for the dedication of a public space to Frederick Douglass," said Dr Hassett. 

Born a slave in Maryland in 1818 before escaping at the age of 20, Douglass visited Cork in 1845 as part of a two-year lecture tour of Britain and Ireland. 

He spent three weeks in Cork giving numerous public speeches against slavery.

Dr Hassett explained the petition to name a street after Frederick Douglass is just one part of a broader project to commemorate Douglass’ visit to Cork.

"We are also hosting a Creative Commemoration event in February of next year involving local artists, performers and some of Douglass’ descendants who will hopefully travel to Cork for the occasion," he said.

For full details of all the events visit douglassincork.com

The petition can be signed via change.org

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