Celebrating Frederick Douglass, Orator

UM Dedicates Douglass Statue

From University of Maryland President Wallace Loh:

November 10, 2015

Dear University of Maryland community,

If one listens carefully, one might hear the fire of the great abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass crackling outside of Hornbake Library.  A towering bronze statue has been installed on the plaza and Douglass Square will be formally dedicated next week. 

Etched there in stone and metal, Douglass’ soaring words echo more than a century after his death.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

The statute catches Douglass in mid-sentence.

“In a composite nation like ours, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common…citizenship, equal rights, and a composite destiny.”

Born a slave near Easton, Maryland, Frederick Douglass probably never set foot on this campus. Now, he stands here, in the state’s flagship university, as an enduring role model for social justice and the transformative power of education—values that are at the core of our institution's mission. 

“Once you learn to read you will ever be free.”

The vision for this contemplative and inspiring installation began several years ago with Distinguished University Professor of History Ira Berlin. I want to thank him and a faculty/staff committee. They labored and fundraised for five years to bring this magnificent project to fruition. 

The statue was cast in Ireland and shipped here. It is a replica of the one erected there in Douglass’ honor. He spent two years in Ireland and Britain where, he said, he felt treated "not as a color, but as a man." 

Funding comes from private gifts, UMD Foundation funds, and grants from the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust.

Douglass lived in many places, but now he has come home to Maryland.

“I am a Marylander and love Maryland and her people.”

You are invited to the official dedication of Frederick Douglass Square on Wednesday, November 18, at 2 p.m. Expected to be in attendance as honored guests will be both his great-great granddaughter and great-great-great grandson.

Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

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