By Cary Shuman
Lynn Highlands resident Wendy Joseph and Mass Humanities, in coordination with the Lynn Museum, will hold a Frederick Douglass reading of his famous speech from 1852 on Sunday, July 3 (6 p.m.) at High Rock Tower Park to coincide with the Lynn fireworks show.
According to Joseph, the event’s non-profit partner this year is the Haitian Option Orphans Mission, a Lynn-based non-profit organization.
“Mass Humanities does a Frederick Douglass reading all over the state and this is my sixth year doing this speech at the High Rock Tower,” said Joseph. “Congress asked him to write a speech on what the Fourth of July means to the slave and he wrote back an oration of four hours which was not unusual for the same period. We will do a shorter version of that speech.”
Joseph said the event will highlight Douglass’s strong connection to the city of Lynn.
“Frederick Douglass came up north and wrote his first autobiography while living in the city of Lynn. Frederick Douglass and the Hutchinson Family Singers were great friends. They used to tour the encampments during the Civil War and sing abolitionist songs. High Rock Tower Park has a great significance for Frederick Douglass. So this speech brings it up to a special level.”
The speech will be divided in to 45 paragraphs and each Lynn resident will recite one paragraph while situated at the foot of the stairs to the High Rock Tower. There will also be a Latina Futura dance recital, a Lynn Classical High School Color Blind hip hop dance performance, and singing by Al Nesser and Ximora Escobar. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), as part of its 150th anniversary celebration, will be conducting a ceremony rededication High Rock Tower as a national historic site.
“Everyone gets in to the act and you sound so brilliant when you’re reading those words of Frederick Douglass – it’s always amazing,” said Joseph. “As for the fireworks display, there’s always a lifelong Lynner who will come up to me and say, ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never been up at the Tower.”
Joseph and her husband moved to Lynn from Brighton in 2002. “We were in Brighton for 10 years before we moved here. We came to Lynn because it was affordable and my husband can take the train straight to work [at Harvard University]. We love Lynn. We have found a wonderful community.”