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Frederick Douglass Day 2023
September 23 @ 10:00 am - 3:30 pm
PLEASE NOTE: CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER FORECAST.
The Frederick Douglass Honor Society joins with the Town of Easton, the Talbot County Free Library, and Talbot County to celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass on Saturday, September 23 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Frederick Douglass Day, the Honor Society’s hallmark event, features a parade (cancelled), welcome ceremony, live entertainment, Frederick Douglass artifacts (courtesy of the National Park Service), lecture, book signings, a children’s village, a retail and food marketplace, and the Frederick Douglass Geocaching Trail. All Frederick Douglass Day activities are free and open to the public.
Frederick Douglass often said that “It is always a fact of some importance to know where a man is born, if, indeed, it be important to know anything about him.” Born in Talbot County in 1818, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was the son of Harriet Bailey, an enslaved field worker, and an unknown white man. Like most enslaved children, he was separated from his mother at birth and raised by his maternal grandmother, Betsy Bailey, until the age of seven. Enslaved for 20 years in Baltimore and on Talbot County farms, he fled north in 1838 and changed his name to Frederick Douglass. With his brilliant mind, eloquence, and courage, he quickly rose to the forefront of the abolitionist movement. “In listening to him,” wrote a contemporary, “your whole soul is fired, every nerve strung – every faculty you possess ready to perform at a moment’s bidding.”
At the age of 27, Frederick Douglass authored his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. It became not only a best seller but an important influence on the abolition movement and the nation at large. Toward the end of 1854 and during the first few months of 1855, Douglass worked on his ultimate declaration, My Bondage and My Freedom. A more mature writer now, he delved deeper into the meaning of his life’s story. Today the work is seen as his masterpiece, one that holds a place of prominence in American literature.
Frederick Douglass changed the way people regard democracy and slavery. He strongly believed that all human beings, regardless of race or gender, are created equal. He said, “In the struggle for justice, the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle. You can’t expect that you’re going to have it tomorrow. You just have to keep working on it.” Douglass’ message holds true today; he remains a man for all generations.
The Welcome Ceremony is moving from the Talbot County Court House to the Talbot County Free Library’s Meeting Room starting at 10:30 a.m. and features guest speakers Brenda Wooden, President of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society; Reverend Keith Beckett, Pastor of St. Johns United Methodist Church; Mayor Megan Cook, the Town of Easton; Dana Newman, Director of the Talbot County Free Library; Dr. Sharon Pepukayi, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools; Devon Beck, Facilitator of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Talbot County Public Schools, and Annie Mewborn, Assistant Principal at Easton Elementary School. Music will be provided by the Easton High and Middle School Bands, and Rapper artist Baba Bomani. Other participants include BAAM (Building African American Minds) and Easton High School’s NJROTC. Easton High School’s Autumn Redman will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies.
Following the Welcome Ceremony, Jeff McGuiness, a photographer, writer, and resident of St. Michaels, will sign copies of his 250-page, large format book, Bear Me Into Freedom: Frederick Douglass of Talbot County from 10 am until 1 pm at Vintage Books and Fine Arts.. Jeff’s book of photographs, five years in the making, gives us a fresh look at the places here in Talbot County that produced the Great Orator.
The Children’s Village is moving indoors at the Talbot County Free Library in the Children’s area featuring games, prizes, face painting, mapping, free Frederick Douglass Coloring Books, book readings by Shauna Beulah, photographs with an image of Frederick Douglass and more starting at 11 a.m.
Frederick Douglass Day will also serve as the kick-off event for a new children’s program at the library: the Frederick Douglass Reading Challenge. The challenge is simple: young people from 6 to 18 years of age will have the chance to enter a raffle to win one of three $50 Target gift cards every time they successfully read a biography of Frederick Douglass. The library has plenty of these, suitable for all ages, at both its St. Michaels and Easton branches.
Frederick Douglass Day’s entertainment performances are moving to the Avalon Theatre starting at noon featuring the Easton Middle School and Easton High School Bands, the Covenant Gospel Choir, Randall Butler, and Hip-Hop artist Baba Bomani.
At the Talbot County Free Library, Autumn Redman will show attendees how they can have fun on her Girl Scout Gold Award Action Project: The Frederick Douglass Geocache Trail. The fun begins with a passport book that includes a map and geocache coordinates. At each stop along the way, geocachers can read about the location’s connection to Frederick Douglass and stamp their passport. When all stops have been visited, geocachers will receive a commemorative coin and a picture of Douglass.
The 2023 Frederick Douglass Lecture (1 p.m. at the Talbot County Free Library) features distinguished University of Delaware Associate Professor and Cochran Scholar Dr. Derrick Spires, who specializes in early African American print culture, citizenship studies, and African American intellectual history. His first book, The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), traces the parallel development of early black print culture and a distinct African American concept of U.S. Citizenship. Dr. Spires, who appeared in the recent film, “Becoming Frederick Douglass,” will sign books following his lecture.
The Failed Promise: Reconstruction, Frederick Douglass and the Impeachment of Andrew Jackson book signing with Dr. Robert Levine takes place at Flying Cloud Booksellers at 11:30 a.m.
The library is also displaying Frederick Douglass artifacts, courtesy of the National Park Services’ Cedar Hill Home, Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray oil portraits by Laura Era, artist and owner of Troika Gallery, and Frederick Douglass panels by Patrick Rogan of Assemble.
Brenda Wooden, President of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, describes Frederick Douglass Day as the perfect time to honor one of our nation’s giants. “We are blessed that such a remarkable man was born here – in Talbot County. His legacy reflects that greatness is achievable through strength, struggle, and hard work. Douglass would often say, ‘What is possible for me is possible for you. Knowing the past opens the doors to the future.’ Let’s join together on September 23, 2023, and honor one of our nation’s greatest heroes – Frederick Douglass.”
For more information, visit www.frederickdouglasshonorsociety.com and Facebook @FrederickDouglassDay.