Frederick Douglass 200th Birthday Celebration Hailed as a Success in Lynn

December 6, 2018
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Wendy Joseph and Julia Greene co-chaired a wrap-up meeting of the Lynn Frederick Douglass 200 Celebration

Committee who looked back on the city’s yearlong observance of the abolitionist, statesman, and orator’s 200th birthday.

Douglass lived in Lynn in from 1841 to 1848, most notably at Harrison Court. Former Daily Item and Salem News reporter Tom Dalton, who attended the meeting, wrote a book, “Frederick Douglass: The Lynn Years,” and his appearance at a lecture and book signing in Lynn was part of the celebration.

“Tom Dalton’s knowledge and his book were the basis of this whole observance,” said Joseph. All told, the Douglass Committee held more than a dozen events during the year in Lynn, some at the Lynn Museum, where Executive Director Drew Russo welcomed the many attendees.

One well-attended event at the Lynn Museum was a lecture and discussion about women’s roles in abolitionist history and the labor movement led by Professor Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, chair of the American Studies Departmenta at Salem State University.

The yearlong observance of Douglass’ 200th birthday (which is actually Feb. 14, 1818) began with a kickoff celebration in February in the foyer of Lynn City Hall. Joseph said that Carolyn Cole, director of the Lynn Cultural District, funded an appearance by a Douglass reenactor. Mayor Thomas McGee’s office provided a sheet cake decorated with a portrait of Douglass.

“Mayor McGee was on board with our efforts from the very beginning and we’re grateful to him for his support and participation at our events,” said Joseph.

Joseph credited Greene for bringing the idea for the Douglass Celebration in to the spotlight.

“Julia and I had worked together a number of years on the Highlands History Film Project and she called me up and informed that this year was the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birthday,” said Joseph. “She told me there were celebrations going on throughout the country, especially in Washington, D.C., Maryland, where he hailed from, and Rochester, N.Y., where he moved to after living in Lynn. I’m glad we did it. We’ve received so much positive feedback about the celebration.”

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