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Rendering courtesy of Katie Lawson/University of Maryland

By Jon Banister, The Diamondback

This summer, the University of Maryland will begin construction on a memorial in Hornbake Plaza to honor Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist leader and influential figure in this state’s history.

Frederick Douglass Square will be located in the plaza directly in front of Hornbake Library, with flower beds, accent lighting, benches surrounding the 50-by-60 space and quotes from Douglass, a renowned orator.

University President Wallace Loh appropriated $375,000 for the project before the recent budget cuts that caused the hiring and construction freeze announced in December, said Crystal Brown, this university’s chief communications officer.

Brown said construction is set to begin during the summer and will not affect any of the surrounding buildings, though she could not provide a timeline for when the project would be completed.

“We’re trying to make it a place where students can get a sense of what the ideals of the university are,” said history professor Ira Berlin, who led the five-year effort to design the memorial and gain its approval. “We’re trying to make it a place for contemplation as well, a sacred place.”

Berlin called Douglass “the most important Marylander who ever lived,” noting his role as a leader in the movement to end slavery and to gain suffrage for African-Americans and women. Douglass, a former slave, taught himself to read and write, and Berlin described the leader as a “founding father of the second American republic,” regarding his role in reconstruction after the Civil War.

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