Frederick Douglass - Events
2013 EventsJune 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
Community reading of Douglass' famous speech. [DETAILS]
June 20, 2013, 8:00 PM
July 1, 2013, 12:00 PM
July 2, 2013, 12:00 PM
Third Annual Reading of Frederick Douglass' Speech at High Rock Tower in Lynn
Top of Circuit Avenue off High Rock Street, Lynn (directions)
The 3rd annual reading of the famous Frederick Douglass speech at High Rock Tower, home of the Hutchinson Family Singers (who famously toured with Mr. Douglass in 1845) will begin at 6 pm. Bring your lawn chair and a picnic and enjoy musical talent, a dancing demonstration by the Cultura Latina Dance Program youth, poetry, face painting, pony rides and the best 360º views of surrounding fireworks from inside the famous Tower. [DETAILS]
July 6, 2013, 3:15 PM (approximately)
Reading of Frederick Douglass' Speech
Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield
The re-reading will take place on the lawn at Arrowhead, in sight of this summer's public art project by Michael Melle, a sculptor who uses straw and wood. Melle's work will depict the recruiting for the all-Black 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, marking its 150th anniversary this year. An exhibit, using interpretive panels in the lawn, will feature several Berkshire County members of the Mass 54th. Event is free; supported in part by Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities; outdoor exhibits free all season.
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
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
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 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.
October 15, 2011, 2:00 PM
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
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
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 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.
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.
July 1, 2010, 12:00 PM
June 30, 2010, 12:00 PM
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
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.