Frederick Douglass Centre Opening

Frederick Douglass Centre Opening


Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey,
he was born into slavery on the eastern shore of Maryland. He would go on to teach himself
to read and write under the objections of his over-seers
and he would escape slavery at the age of twenty,
joined the anti-slavery speaking circuit and spoke out against slavery. He was the first African American nominated for
Vice-President of the United States, First African American U.S. Marshal, First African American Recorder of Deeds
for the District of Columbia, First African American ambassador
and Counsel General to Haiti. He had a good long life of social activism
and was a very important voice in the abolition of slavery
in the United States. Us as a society do kind of have a reality
check in terms of where we are. I think ‘cause we’re in twenty nineteen
a lot of people think we’ve moved on and we have in many ways but racial
relations and racism is still very much present in our society.
It’s really special that it’s been opened in name of a black man.
There’s a lot of legacy there that kind of directly relates to a lot of black students on
campus and has real significance in terms of space. And hopefully, the building can become
something really monumental for students. I’ve known about Newcastle upon Tyne
my whole life and the importance that it held in the life of Frederick Douglass
and his freedom and so to finally make it here,
to this place and space and to be in this beautiful building,
named for my great ancestor Humbling is really the word that,
that comes to mind. We’ve set up a Frederick Douglass legacy award
which is for students of colour so black or Asian or other ethnic minorities,
to basically create a creative response which will form part of a
longer standing exhibition here as part of the legacy of Fred Douglass
and the commitment to social justice. So hopefully students will have
a really important feature in kind of forming and shaping this building
and it’s great to see that that’s gonna be a long-standing thing.

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