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Frederick Douglass Square Dedicated on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

“Our destiny is largely in our hands.”

Frederick Douglass

A large crowd gathered in front of Hornbake Library on Wednesday, November 18 to dedicate Frederick Douglass Square. Members of the UMD community, local dignitaries and members of the Douglass family witnessed the fruition of a project five years in the making. The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a 7.5 foot, 1,640 pound bronze statue of Douglass by sculptor Andrew Edwards. Dean of ARHU, Bonnie Thornton Dill hosted and speakers included President Loh, County Executive Rushern Baker, Maryland State Executive (and UMD alumnus), Alonzo Washington. PhD candidate in History, Robert Bland, delivered what many considered the greatest of Douglass’ anti-slavery speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Distinguished Professor of History, Ira Berlin, whose advocacy and drive led the campaign for the construction of the square expressed his thanks to the many people who helped make the day possible. This included his fellow “North Stars” the project committee, who took their name from one of Frederick Douglass’ newspapers and potent navigation symbol for slaves fleeing to freedom.

The University was honored by the presence of two of Douglass’ descendants, Nettie Washington Douglass and Kenneth B. Morris. Each spoke warmly of the immediacy of their connection to their ancestor and of the power of his legacy. Also present were Don Mullen and Kristin Leary, directors of the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project who were responsible for connecting sculptor Andrew Edwards with the Maryland project.

Spectators were also treated to musical performances. The event opened with American Anthem sung by Music Department Professor Carmen Balthrop, who was accompanied by Professor Kathleen Trahan on flute. After the statue was unveiled, the University of Maryland Gospel Choir offered Oh Freedom and a version of Nobody Turn Me Around to the delight of the crowd. Everyone was then invited into the lobby of Hornbake Library for refreshments and to view the exhibition, Frederick Douglass: Scholarship and Legacy.

To view a slideshow of the event, please click here.