Honoring Frederick Douglass' 200th Birthday
UPDATED 1/18/2018: The community celebration scheduled for Jan. 18 has been rescheduled to Jan. 25.
Several organizations and community groups are planning events in 2018 to commemorate the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass through music, readings from his autobiography and several visionary art performances.
The series kicks off Jan. 25 with a community celebration at the United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Visionary artist Tarish Pipkins, aka Jeghetto, will unveil his newest creation, a Frederick Douglass puppet and multi-media performance. Mary D. Williams, acclaimed gospel singer and scholar, will celebrate Douglass by singing the story of the African-American experience - from slavery to abolition and beyond.
“Frederick Douglass was a transformative figure within the development and history of this nation,” said James E. Williams, Jr., former public defender for Orange County and a member of the committee planning the bicentennial events throughout the county. “He escaped from slavery and became one of the critical figures in propelling this nation toward the abolition of slavery. In those bleak times, he had a vision and a hope for a better life, and he fought for that. He was truly a remarkable person whose contributions to our nation deserve to be celebrated.”
Douglass was born in February 1818, although his exact birth date was not recorded. Congress approved and President Trump signed legislation in November creating the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission as part of a nationwide celebration of the 200th birthday of the famed 19th-century abolitionist, writer and public servant.
The events are funded by Orange County, the Town of Chapel Hill, the Town of Carrboro, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP, the UNC Center for the Study of the American South, Orange Organizing Against Racism and Marion Phillips.
As part of the celebration, the organizations purchased 1,000 copies of a commemorative edition of "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave." The books will be distributed throughout the community, with an emphasis on youth, as part of the national One Million Abolitionists effort led by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
The FDFI is seeking to print one million hardcover copies of the book in 2018 to be given to young people, who will be asked to create service projects to address an urgent social justice issue present in their community.
All the events listed below are open to the public and free of charge. More events are being planned, including an appearance from Frederick Douglass' great-great-great grandson, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., and will be added to the website as they are finalized.
Frederick Douglass at 200 Kickoff Celebration
Featuring Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins and Mary D. Williams
Thursday, January 25, 7 p.m.
United Church of Chapel Hill
Kick off a community-wide celebration of the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass with an evening of art and song. Visionary artist Tarish Pipkins, aka Jeghetto, will unveil his newest creation, a Frederick Douglass puppet and multi-media performance. Mary D. Williams, acclaimed gospel singer and scholar, will celebrate Douglass by singing the story of the African-American experience - from slavery to abolition and beyond.
Town of Carrboro celebrates Douglass at 200
Monday, February 5th, 7 p.m.
Carrboro Century Center
Who was Frederick Douglass and why is he so important to us today? Join us as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass with presentations from James E. Williams Jr.,retired Orange/Chatham Chief Public Defender, Michelle Lanier, Executive Director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, and Jaki Shelton Green, award-winning poet. Light refreshments provided.
Brightstar Theater presents Frederick Douglass
Sunday, February 11
2 p.m. Chapel Hill Public Library
4 p.m. Hargraves Community Center
Celebrate a hero of American History with this production from a highly acclaimed touring theater company. This show – best for 4th graders through adults – highlights Douglass’ awe-inspiring life, from his escape from a Maryland plantation to his days as a newspaper publisher and celebrates both the power of education and a life of courage.
Frederick Douglass: Then and Now
Thursday, February 22, 7 p.m.
Chapel Hill Public Library, Meeting Room B
What would Frederick Douglass think of 2018? What did his contemporaries think of him? What was Douglass’s impact, then and now? A panel of scholars, including Reginald Hildebrand and Patrick Horn will consider and comment on these questions and more. Join us for this town/gown special event, co-sponsored by Carolina Public Humanities.
Reading Douglass in Public
Wednesday, February 28, 6-8 p.m.
Orange County Public Library Main Library
Join local authors, poets, historians and social justice advocates as they read from Douglass’ The Narrative.
Discuss “The Narrative”
Monday, March 5, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Orange County Public Library Main Library
The First Monday Classics Book Club led by local authors from Hillsborough will discuss The Narrative. No need to register or be a member of the book club. Just come on by!
For more information contact Orange County Community Relations Director Todd McGee at (919) 245-2302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.