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UMD to Honor Frederick Douglass’ 200th Birthday with Year-Long Initiative

Douglass 200 will launch on February 5 with a lecture presented by David W. Blight.


Natifia Mullings , 301-405-3468


The University of Maryland will celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass with several events planned for 2018. On February 5, the university will kick off Douglass 200, a year-long initiative to commemorate the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’ birth, with a public lecture on his life and legacy. Presented by David W. Blight, distinguished professor of American History at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, “My Voice, My Pen, My Vote: Frederick Douglass—Legacies in Our Own Time” will explore the many ways that the life and work of Douglass still remains vital in modern American society.

Fredrick Douglass Square

Douglass was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in February 1818. After escaping to freedom as a young man, he became one of the nation’s leading voices in the crusade to abolish slavery. A self-educated man, Douglass was an eloquent writer and impassioned orator who cultivated the respect and admiration of the American public. Throughout his life, he was a tireless advocate for human rights and equality for all people, whatever their race or gender. Douglass’ dramatic rise from slave to statesman served as an inspirational example of the innate potential in all people regardless of their origins.

The work of Douglass is intertwined with the research and curriculum of the university. UMD libraries have continually featured exhibits on Douglass. In addition, UMD dedicated Frederick Douglass Square in 2015. It is a commemorative public space centered on UMD’s Hornbake Plaza, a prominent campus location and hub of student activity. The square features stone pavers and a vertical corten wall, both engraved to highlight Douglass’ words.

Douglass 200 is organized by a group of campus leaders called the North Stars. The “My Voice, My Pen, My Vote: Frederick Douglass—Legacies in Our Own Time” lecture will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. For additional information about Douglass 200, please visit

About University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

About David W. Blight

David Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, where he serves as Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. The center hosts conferences, working groups, lectures, and many public outreach programs on the history of slavery and its abolition, as well as awarding the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize.

As a scholar of American slavery and abolition, Blight is the author of numerous award-winning books including Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001), A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including their Narratives of Emancipation (2007), American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2011), and a new annotated edition of Frederick Douglass’s second autobiography, My Bondage, My Freedom (2013). He has recently completed a new, full biography of Frederick Douglass.


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