Frederick Douglass Bicentennial

Opportunities Abound to Celebrate the Bicentennial

In addition to our own, many events, exhibits, and other activities are being presented by organizations across the Commonwealth to commemorate and celebrate Frederick Douglass in the 200th year since his birth. We are collecting them here, so check back often, and let us know what’s missing. Events can also be posted to our online Humanities Calendar. Note that the information we have might be limited; check with the organizers for full details.

Looking for more ways to celebrate Douglass’s bicentennial? Join the conversation, volunteer, donate and more at the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community.

February through March 2018

Black History Month and Frederick Douglass – New Bedford, MA

Several events and exhibits will mark Black History Month 2018 in New Bedford throughout the month of February, with added events to honor the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass.

City Hall hosts an art exhibit celebrating Black History Month in the Ashley Room, by artist and curator Alison Wells. The opening reception for the exhibit, with refreshments and an opportunity to meet the artist, is during AHA! Night on Thursday, February 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The New Bedford Historical Society hosts its 18th Annual Frederick Douglass Read-a-thon at the First Unitarian Church at 71 Eighth Street on Sunday, February 11, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Douglass, a noted abolitionist who escaped from slavery himself, arrived in New Bedford in 1838 at the age of 20, shortly after his escape, and found a welcoming community in the city.

Other events include a 200th Birthday Celebration for Frederick Douglass hosted by the Frederick Douglass Unity House at UMass Dartmouth on Wednesday, February 14, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. as well as a Cultural Connections Concert with the African Children’s Choir, South Coast Children’s Chorus and New Bedford Public Schools’ Carney Academy Select Chorus at Keith Middle School on Saturday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. MORE INFO

February through October, 2018

Frederick Douglass’ 200th Birthday – Lynn, MA

Celebrating the life and birth of Frederick Douglass is happening throughout the year in Lynn. Discussions, films, readings, and music celebrations are just some of what’s happening. Follow them on Facebook or download their Douglass brochure below.

Saturday, June 2, 2018 1:00-4:00 PM

Frederick Douglass and Mass History Day – Roxbury, MA
Media Arts Center, Roxbury Community College

Mass Humanities is collaborating with Mass History Day to encourage participating high school students across the Commonwealth to focus their projects on Frederick Douglass this year. The afternoon will feature presentations by high school students of winning History Day projects focusing on Frederick Douglass, conversations with three of the country’s leading Frederick Douglass Scholars, and a specially commissioned spoken word performance by Mass LEAP. The scholars are David Blight, Yale University; Lois Brown, Wesleyan University; and John Stauffer, Harvard University. We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.

High school students interested in working on this project with MassLEAP may submit a short creative piece.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Douglass Day 2018 at the American Antiquarian Society – Worcester, MA

To celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, the Colored Conventions Project, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian Transcription Center are gathering communities across the US and abroad to transcribe the Freedmen’s Bureau Records. In collaboration with Mass Humanities, AAS will be hosting a gathering in Worcester to join this effort. Specifically we are inviting you and your friends and colleagues to the Goddard-Daniels House to help transcribe documents from the Freedmen’s Bureau. The bureau was established by Congress after the Civil War to help formerly enslaved people transition to freedom. We will also participate in the live-stream of the entire transcribe-a-thon, featuring brief talks from historians and curators, along with a dramatic reading of a speech by Frederick Douglass. We will ask that folks bring their own laptops or tablets (we can provide a few laptops to anyone who doesn’t have one). There is no special skills required, all training and instruction will be provided. Food and refreshments provided.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Frederick Douglass: Images & Words – Boston, MA

In commemoration of Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday and the Museum of African American History’s acclaimed exhibit, Picturing Frederick Douglass: The Most Photographed American of the 19th Century, join Discovering Justice for a panel discussion and Q&A with some of the leading experts on Frederick Douglass’s life and legacy.

Thursday, February 22, 2018 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Frederick Douglass: A Mission to Create Images of Freedom and Dignity – Greenfield, MA

An examination of the emerging role that photography played in helping create support and respect for Frederick Douglass and the anti-slavery movement.