Douglass Events

2016 Events


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June 9, 2016, 7:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
New Bedford Public Library, 613 Pleasant Street, New Bedford

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.conc

June 24, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Newton Centre Green, Langley Road and Centre Streets, Newton

A leading abolitionist who was once enslaved, Frederick Douglass didn’t hesitate to confront Americans about racism during his 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Historic Newton hosts a communal reading of this speech; the themes are still relevant today. Free; all are welcome to come and listen.

June 26, 2016, 4:00 PM

We Read Frederick Douglass as a Community: One Voice, Three Languages
Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association, Brockton

At 4pm, Mr. Bennett, represented by a member of the Brockton Historical Society, will set the stage. He will share his abolitionist story, and describe the lives of some of the civil rights activists who spoke out for justice and equality at this site, such as Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Amelia Bloomer, and Douglass himself. Then the participants will walk the short length of the street to the Douglass Garden. At 4:20 pm, our local community minister will give the audience the historic background of the Douglass speech. Then representative actors from three community groups will lead the audience in the reading of the speech in three languages English, led by a Brockton Historical Society member; Haitian Creole, by Haitian Community Partners; and Cape Verdean Creole, by a member of the Cape Verdean Association. Members of the audience will be encouraged to read, and may choose to read excerpts in the language most comfortable to them. We will have the speech available for audience use in three languages. The participatory reading will be followed by songs from local church choir members.

June 30, 2016, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Boston Common at the State House, Shaw-MA 54th Memorial, Boston

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Join Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, Community Change, Inc., Mass Humanities, and a host of other civic and community organizations on the Boston Common.

July 1, 2016, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Worcester City Hall, Worcester

Frederick Douglass Communal Reading will be held at Worcester City Hall Common (The Oval). We will have Rev. Raymond Austin, Emmanuel Baptist Church, lead Pastor will be our Scholar Speaker. This reading attending by many, but over the last year – Students from the local High Schools have used this reading for civic engagement activities.

Frederick Douglass Reading partners are Women In Action, City of Worcester, Executive Office of the City of Worcester, the Worcester Public Library, Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester Art Museum, Mass Humanities, Worcester County DA Joe Early.

July 1, 2016, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Springfield City Hall Steps, Springfield

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

July 3, 2016, 6:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
High Rock Tower, Lynn

Please join Mass Humanities, The Haitian Action Orphans Mission, and your hosts, The Parks Department of Lynn for our 6th annual reading of Frederick Douglass’ speech on the meaning of Independence Day for the slave. Bring a picnic, enjoy free pony rides, music, and enjoy a tour of the Tower. Come celebrate freedom of speech with your Community! Stay for the best view of the fireworks around!

July 4, 2016, 10:00 AM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
West lawn, Shaw Memorial Library, 312 Main Street, Plainfield

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Sponsored by community residents in collaboration with the Shaw Memorial Library.

July 4, 2016, 11:00 AM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
The Robbins House, Concord

This event consists of three parts: reading of selections from the Declaration of Independence by a Park re-enactor in 18th century dress to set the background for Douglass’s 1852 speech; next will be a participatory community reading of Douglass’ speech, followed by a discussion of the Douglass speech through thought-provoking questions and discourse on the meaning of the speech in Douglass’ time and in our own.

July 4, 2016, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Fitchburg Commons (in front of the USPS), Fitchburg

Join Women in Action, Inc., of Worcester for a parade and public discussion during their Reading Frederick Douglass event in Fitchburg, co-sponsored by many local organizations.

July 4, 2016, 1:00 – 3:00PM

Reading of Frederick Douglass’ Historic Speech: What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?
Inkwell Beach, Oak Bluffs

How much has changed since Frederick Douglass gave this speech BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR? This speech which is seldom part of the school curriculum is one of the most daring, eloquent speeches ever given in the English language. Join us on the Inkwell Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, read of a section of it or just listen to the power of it. All are welcome. Oh, and bring a pot luck dish and a bathing suit.

July 5, 2016, 3:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, Adams

Join the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum for a three-part event on the history of Frederick Douglass’ alliance with Susan B. Anthony and his enduring relevance. First, Collen Janz, Executive Director of the Museum will present on the friendship of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Follwoing this, local historian Virginia Duvall will introduce “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” by offering a brief history of its significance and historic value in the fight for civil liberties. The speech will then be read by six local high school students. Following the reading, Melissa Cairns, a Drury High School English teacher, will lead an open discussion on how the work of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony impacts the lives of youth today. Following the event, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the museum where they can learn more about Frederick Douglass, as the museum has a wall dedicated to him and the abolition of slavery.

July 5, 2016, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Federated Church, 45 Summer Street, Edgartown

Join the Friends of Edgartown Public Library for a communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

2015 Events

June 3, 2015, 4:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Started at Underground Railroad Site at 25 Frederick Douglass Avenue, Brockton

150 people joined in a communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

July 1, 2015, 5:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
City Hall Common, Worcester

70 people joined in a communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

July 2, 2015, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Boston Common – at the State House/Shaw-MA 54th Memorial, Boston

About 200 people gathered in the withering noonday heat at the Shaw/MA 54th Monument on the Boston Common for the seventh annual communal reading of Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech.

July 3, 2015, 6:00 PM

Fifth Annual Reading of Frederick Douglass’ Speech
High Rock Tower, Lynn

About 400 people joined our 5th annual communal reading of the famous Frederick Douglass speech at High Rock Tower in Lynn, home of Douglass’ friends the Hutchinson Family Singers.

July 3, 2015, 6:00 PM

Reading Frederick Douglass
Federated Church 45 South Summer Street, Edgartown

A selection of community members took turns reading sections of Frederick Douglass’s historic speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” at the Federated Church in Edgartown. Douglass delivered the speech in 1852 in Rochester, N.Y., but spoke to a full house at the Federated Church five years later. The second annual reading of the speech is sponsored by the Friends of the Edgartown Public Library.

July 4, 2015, 12:00 PM

Reading Frederick Douglass
The Robbins House, 320 Monument St., across from the Old Manse & North Bridge, Concord

60 people joined Guy Peartree, re-enactor, lead a community reading of Frederick Douglass’s speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.” Questions and discussion followed the speech.

July 4, 2015, 12:00 PM

Reading Frederick Douglass
The Renaissance House, Inkwell Beach, Oaks Bluff

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence was held.

July 9, 2015, 6:00 – 7:30 PM

Community Reading of “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
New Bedford Free Public Library, 613 Pleasant St, New Bedford

People joined the members of the New Bedford Historical Society in a community reading of Douglass’s 1852 fiery speech on the meaning of Independence Day, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

July 16, 2015, 6:00 PM

“What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” A Community Reading
North Street, Pittsfield

50 people gathered for a community reading of an excerpt of Frederick Douglass’ famous speech on human rights, African Americans and the meaning of the Fourth of July and the federal Constitution. This was a wonderful family activity to celebrate American freedom.

Readings took place in Vermont and North Carolina as well.

2014 Events

June 28, 2014, 1:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Amherst Common, Amherst

About 125 people gathered on the Common to witness the live- theater performance of Reading Frederick Douglass by a cast of about 15 readers. Beginning with an ancestral invocation, the reading, directed by Ingrid Askew, was dramatically performed and interspersed with song by the Amherst Area Gospel Choir, directed by Jacqueline Wallace. Immediately following, about 40 people participated in a discussion facilitated by Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, UMass Amherst. The planning committee for this inaugural reading was the Sojourner Truth Committee, Leverett Peace Commission, Amherst Human Rights Commission, David Ruggles Center and Mass Humanities.

July 1, 2014, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
City Hall Plaza, Worcester

About 40 people gathered at the Worcester Common to read “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” The theme of this year’s event, Passing the Torch, was appropriately attended by many young people. This was the 4th year in Worcester; Future Focus Media has been the lead organizer for the past 3 years. This year’s reading was the culmination of a partnership that included the City of Worcester, Office of Cultural Development, the Worcester Public Library, The United States Park Rangers, Our Stories Ent, the Worcester Youth Center, Boys and Girls Club of Worcester and a host of others. Funding was provided by Worcester Arts Council, through Mass Cultural Council, supported by Mass Humanities.

July 2, 2014, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Boston Common – at the State House/Shaw-MA 54th Memorial, Boston

Close to 200 people gathered in the withering noonday heat at the Shaw/MA 54th Monument on the Boston Common for the sixth annual communal reading of Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech. The event was opened by Paula Elliot, who sang the musical history of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Readers included House Speaker DeLeo, Commander Harrington and members of the MA 54th Regiment, and Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree. The featured readers, however, were interested citizens and passers-by, as well as a large crowd reading along. (Watch a short video from WGBH’s Basic Black on the Boston event.)

July 2, 2014, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Federated Church of Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard

Seventy-five people gathered at the historic Federated church in Edgartown, where Douglass spoke in 1857, to witness 16 readers take turns delivering the speech against the backdrop of Ruth De-Wilde Major’s large scale portrait of Frederick Douglass. The Friends of the Edgartown Library and The Edgartown Public Library was the main organizers.

July 2, 2014, 5:30-7:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
New Bedford Historical Society, 21 7th St, New Bedford

A communal reading of the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in which Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

July 3, 2014, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Fourth Annual Reading of Frederick Douglass’ Speech
High Rock Tower in Lynn

At this 4th annual reading, ordinary citizens, young and old from the Lynn area, School Committee member Rick Starbard and Ward Councilor Hong Net spoke Douglass’ rousing words before a crowd of 200 at High Rock Tower, the historic home of the Hutchinson family singers. The reading was central to Lynn’s 4th of July celebration which included song, musical and dance performances and an abbreviated reading of the Declaration of Independence from Revolutionary re-enactor Dave Hill. The Highland Coalition was lead organizer.

July 3, 2014, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
City Hall Steps, Springfield

On the steps of City Hall, a small group persevered the sweltering 90 degree heat for the 4th annual reading. (State) Rep. Benjamin Swan and Mayor Sarno were among the readers. The discussion afterwards, led by Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, UMass Amherst, was small but thorough.

July 4, 2014, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
The Robbins House, 320 Monument St., across from the Old Manse & North Bridge, Concord (rain location: Under the Old Manse tent)

It started at noon on July 4th, inside Robbins House, with the tail of hurricane Arthur whipping around. The room was packed; by noon there was standing room only, probably 40 people. Guy Peartree, a Frederick Douglass re-enactor, invited people from the audience to read paragraphs, and indicated those with special import. The question and answer period that followed was rich with discussion, and Guy slipped in and out of character depending on the question. This event was organized by The Drinking Gourd Project, Inc.

July 19, 2014, 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Pitts Park, Columbus Avenue, Pittsfield

Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival, the Samuel Harrison House and the NAACP of Berkshire County will host a community reading of the famous Frederick Douglass’ speech at the Gather-In Pitts Park, Pittsfield. In its 41st year, the Gather-In is the oldest African American celebration in the Berkshires. In his speech, Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

2013 Events

June 19, 2013, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Nathan and Mary Johnson House, 21 Seventh Street, New Bedford

About fifty people gathered at the New Bedford Historical Society to read, listen, and also talk about what has changed in race relations over their lifetime at the New Bedford Historical Society. After the collective reading of the speech, participants in their late 70s talked about the changes in housing discrimination, in employment opportunities, and in dating and marriage during their lifetimes. A few people also talked about the changes for African-Americans in popular TV programming in the past 40 or 50 years.

June 20, 2013, 8:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Down Street Art Festival Opening, North Adams

On a very warm and sunny evening, a crowd of about 70 gathered on Main Street in North Adams for a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s Fourth of July speech. It was organized in collaboration with the Berkshires’ Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival and various North Adams organizations.

July 1, 2013, 12:00 PM

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
City Hall Plaza, Worcester

The third annual reading of Frederick Douglass’s Fourth of July speech in Worcester took place at the newly restored City Steps. Opened by a chorus of young voices, the event drew about fifty people. Fortunately, the impending rain held off until the very moment the reading ended, but drowned out the scheduled discussion. The program was funded in part by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council.

July 2, 2013, 12:00 PM

Reading Frederick Douglass and the Emancipation Proclamation
Boston Common – at the State House/Shaw-MA 54th Memorial, Boston (Rain location: Nurses Hall, State House)

A rousing crowd of 400 gathered to participate in the fifth annual reading at the 54th Memorial on the Boston Common. Singer Paula Elliott started off the event with a rousing musical rendition of the history of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. (video) Governor Patrick began the reading, followed by politicians, members of various Boston cultural and civic organizations, the National Park Service, youth members of the Boston NAACP, and members of the public. The event netted a write-up in the Boston Globe and even TV coverage on Channel 22.   (video)

July 3, 2013, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Third Annual Reading of Frederick Douglass’ Speech at High Rock Tower in Lynn
Top of Circuit Avenue off High Rock Street, Lynn

About hundred people participated in the 3rd annual Frederick Douglass reading-cum-festival at High Rock Tower in Lynn. The event, which was emcee’d by Walnut da lyrical Genie, was a festival that included pony rides, young Haitian-style dancers, music from the heyday of protest, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the incomparable Julio Barre. (photos)

July 6, 2013, 3:15 PM (approximately)

Reading “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Daring to Dream, Mass MoCA, North Adams

Area youth and young adult spoken-word poets who were part of the Mass MoCA and Lift Ev’ry Voice Daring to Dream program were joined by passers-by in the museum for a reading of Frederick Douglass’ July 4th speech. The event was followed by a short discussion moderated by group leaders. (photo)

August 4, 2013, afternoon

Reading of Frederick Douglass’ Speech
Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield

The Arrowhead reading, attended by about 25 people, was part of the Berkshire Historical Society’s summer-long celebration of the Massachusetts 54th regiment, and of the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival. Frederick Douglass recruited for the regiment in Pittsfield in 1863. The reading, which had been slated to take place besides Mike Melle’s straw sculptures honoring the 54th, was moved into the barn because of thunderstorms. Robert Wallace (Douglass and Melville, 2005) introduced the event. (Press)

2012 Events

June 28, 2012, 11:30 AM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Frederick Douglass Returns to Springfield
Museum Quadrangle and Springfield City Library, Springfield

Enlivened by an encampment of re-enactors of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment’s Stone Soul Peter Brace Brigade, the 2012 reading was opened by young actors of The Performance Project, Underground Railroad interpreters, and Dr. Kamal Ali (Westfield State). Some seventy people, including performing artists from the Drama Studio and Enchanted Circle, participated in the reading, and twenty of them followed up with a lively discussion with Dr. Ali and Dr. Huguette Williams (STCC) in the cool library rotunda.

July 2, 2012, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Frederick Douglass at the Massachusetts State House
Boston Common – at the State House/Shaw-MA 54th Memorial, Boston – (VIDEO)

More than 250 people gathered at the Shaw/Mass. 54th Memorial on Boston Common for the Fourth Annual Frederick Douglass reading. Paula Giddings opened the event with a Song of the Abolitionist/Come by Here medley. About sixty people participated in the reading, including members of the Patrick administration, Massachusetts 54th re-enactors, civil rights leaders, and members of the public. Representative Byron Rushing (D, Roxbury) read the last paragraph. Baritone Judge Milton Wright closed the hour-long event.

July 3, 2012, 6:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: A Communal Reading of a lecture by Frederick Douglass
High Rock Park, Lynn – (PHOTOS)

With history-inspired pony rides, a concert with six performers, a poetry reading by Albanian Immigrant poet Rozi Teohari, the celebration of free speech that Lynn organizations built around Reading Frederick Douglass was once again festive and solemn. High Rock Tower Park, home of the abolitionist Hutchinson Family Singers, has been the Fourth of July celebration site in Lynn for well over a century. Participants ranged in age from seven to seventy, and hailed from almost as many different backgrounds as there were participants. The evening ended, to match Douglass fiery words, with fireworks in Lynn and surrounding communities.

July 5, 2012, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Reading Frederick Douglass during the Presidency of Barack Obama
City Hall Common, Worcester

The second annual reading of Frederick Douglass Fourth of July address in Worcester took place on the 160th anniversary of the speech. Approximately 110 people attended, following well-attended Worcester history walking tours. Worcester NAACP President, Cedric Arno inspired the crowd with an eloquent and fiery reminder that it is incumbent on us to vote if we want to have a voice in civil rights. Holy Cross’ local history specialist Tom Doughton opened the reading, followed by a long line of civic and community leaders as well as Worcester residents of varying backgrounds. If you missed your turn, the crowd was reminded at the end, you can do this at home or wait till next year.

2011 Events

October 15, 2011, 2:00 PM

Frederick Douglass Then and Now
Second Congregationalist Church, Park Street, Attleboro

Thirty people, including the Chairman of the Attleboro City Council, participated in a reading of Fredrick Douglass Fourth of July Speech organized by the Attleboro Council on Human Rights and other organizations. The reading went quite smoothly with two podiums and two mikes. Participants found the speech very moving and many were surprised at its relevance for today. Afterwards, moderator Sam Coale (Wheaton College) led a spirited discussion after the speech which involved many of those in attendance. He also highlighted the skillful was in which Douglass organized the speech and the fact that he ended on a “hopeful” note.

June 29, 2011, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Reading Frederick Douglass during the Presidency of Barack Obama
City Hall steps, Springfield

Springfield’s June 1 twister and aftermath pushed the second annual Douglass reading across the street to sun-baked the steps of City Hall. (State) Rep. Benjamin Swan started the reading, which was supported by some twenty local organizations and attended by an audience of about 130 (including Mayor Sarno). Undisputed champions of the event were a group of children from The Drama Studio, who read together in a rhythm that was hard to resist. The discussion afterwards, led by Amilcar Shabazz, Chair of African-American Studies at UMass Amherst, was small but thorough.

June 30, 2011, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Frederick Douglass at the Massachusetts State House
Boston Common – steps in front of State House, Boston

A lunchtime crowd of about 160 showed up for the third annual reading on Boston Common, which took on ceremonial overtones that promised further readings. Roxbury Judge Milton L. Wright, Jr. opened the event with a resounding “Let My People Go,” (State) Rep. Byron Rushing introduced the speech. Readers included members of the Patrick administration, the 54th Massachusetts (“Glory”) Regiment, Boston civil rights leaders and members of the general public. The only hitch was that the Common is under construction, which caused the reading to block the sidewalk. However, the next day’s Boston Globe brought evidence that even some tourists were very pleased to have attended the reading.

July 3, 2011, 6:30 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: A Communal Reading of a lecture by Frederick Douglass
High Rock Park, Lynn (If rain: Robert L. Ford School, 49 Hollingsworth St) – (PHOTOS)

The crowning Douglass event of 2011 was a reading at Lynn’s High Rock Tower, supported by 34 entities. Despite rain, thunder, and canceled fireworks, at least 120 people ventured onto the exposed promontory, which was accompanied not only by a concert, but also food stalls and pony rides, inspired by nineteenth-century July 4 celebrations. Volunteers improvised an awning for performers and readers. The reading was surrounded by performances ranging from rap by Walnut da Lyrical Geni and dancing by Green Tea Cru to abolition songs, beautifully rendered by Maggi and Jim Dalton. Local historian Julia Greene spoke about Douglass’ residence in Lynn from 1841 to 1847. Reading of the speech proceeded ceremonially, readers descending the steps between audience members under loud applause. Paragraphs were read in Haitian and Khmer. At last word, the organizers are picking a date for next year.

June 24, 2011, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Reading Frederick Douglass during the Presidency of Barack Obama
City Hall Common, Worcester – (VIDEO)

Many of the 70-odd people who braved a persistent drizzle to attend the reading on the steps of City Hall in Worcester were much moved and fired-up by the experience. The speech was introduced by Carlton Watson of the Willis Center and Holy Cross emeritus historian John Anderson, who explained what a hotbed of activism Worcester was during the middle of years of the nineteenth century. The Mayor participated. One woman read with borrowed glasses. One man, who walked by at lunch hour without having known about the event, participated, and liked it so much his organization will be collaborating in next year’s promised event.

2010 Events

July 1, 2010, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Frederick Douglass at the Massachusetts State House
Boston Common – steps in front of State House, Boston

150 joined us in a shared public reading of a masterful and rousing speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.” The Speech was introduced by Douglass scholar John Stauffer (Harvard), and the State Representative Byron Rushing (D, Roxbury) who is a local historian. Members of the Patrick Administration, civil rights leaders, and members of the public participated in the reading. Readers and audience were happy, and organizers promised another reading next year.

June 30, 2010, 12:00 PM

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: Reading Frederick Douglass during the Presidency of Barack Obama
Court Square Park and Old First Church, Springfield

Serenaded by the Ladies of Faith Ensemble, 75 people gathered in Springfield’s Court Square Park for a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 Fourth of July speech to mark this year as the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. John Grayson of Mount Holyoke College provided a short introduction to the speech, and (State) Representative Benjamin Swan opened the reading with a stentorian rendition of Douglass’ words, setting a great example. Students from the Paul Dunbar School participated in the reading, as did many citizens and a few passers-by. The Pan African History Museums and the Olive Tree Bookshop were present with information tables. Following the reading, Professor Grayson led a spirited discussion in the Old First Church, attended by about a dozen people, including local historian and Editor-in-Chief of the Springfield Republican, Wayne Phaneuf.

June 30, 2010, 12:00 PM

Reading Frederick Douglass – New Bedford
New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, 33 William Street, New Bedford

Chased inside by torrential downpours, a group of about twenty-five people took turns reading Frederick Douglass the fiery July 5, 1852, speech in New Bedford. Douglass lived in New Bedford for some years and the event had been scheduled on what is usually a busy AHA! Downtown Cultural Night (everything in historic New Bedford is open and free), to attract local residents as well as visitors. A New Bedford Historical Society Douglass tour and a discussion, led by followed the reading.