He left a lasting impression on Cork.
Now the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s visit to Ireland over 175 years ago is to be celebrated as part of a nationwide event bringing together students and researchers, historians, artists, musicians, poets, authors, singers, activists and community groups from Ireland and abroad.
Running from February 8th-14th, 2021, Douglass Week will see participants respond to Douglass’s story with performances, visual art, music and conversation.
You don’t need to be directly involved to drop in either; curious attendees are welcome at all the events online. They also make an interesting addition to a homeschooling schedule for older kids and teens.
Who was Frederick Douglass?
Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped bondage on a plantation in Maryland by fleeing to the north, where he became a prominent anti-slavery activist.
Though the exact date of his birth is unknown, he later chose to celebrate February 14th as his birthday, remembering that his mother called him her “Little Valentine.”
In the autumn of 1845, he sailed from America to Ireland for a four-month lecture tour of the island, addressing large and enthusiastic audiences in Cork, Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick and Belfast, meeting with Daniel O’Connell, and reflecting upon the devastating effects of the famine then beginning to sweep the nation.
According to the organisers, “DouglassWeek programming highlights the experience of Douglass and other abolitionists and explores issues like identity, migration and race in contemporary Ireland.
“It emphasises the continued importance of remembering slavery and the intertwined struggle for independence and liberation in Ireland and the US.”
You’ll find the full schedule and information on all the planned events at douglassincork.com/schedule.
Here are four events to look out for:
1. Conversations about Race
When: Monday, February 8th, 2pm
Hosted by Dr. Amanullah De Sondy with Timi Ogunyemi, Dr. Anthea Butler and Sir Geoff Palmer, this University College Cork Equality, Diversity, Inclusion Unit panel will discuss the legacy of Douglass and racism in the USA, Ireland and Scotland.
2. Douglass and Diversity on Screen
When: Tuesday, February 9th, 8:30pm (GMT)
This roundtable with actors Roger Guenveur Smith and Paul Oakley Stovall (Hamilton), hosted by Dr. Caroline Dunham-Schroeter (University College Cork, Ireland), will lead into a live performance by Roger Guenveur Smith of his play “Frederick Douglass NOW”.
Register for your free ticket here.
3. Creative Writing Workshop
When: Thursday, February 11th, 6.30pm
Writer and poet David Mills will host this interactive creative writing class, based around a speech by Frederick Douglass. No familiarity with Douglass’s is work required and anyone can take part.
Register for a free place here.
4. I Am Remarkable!
When: Friday, February 12th, 6pm
Cork Migrant Centre, Nano Nagle Place in collaboration with CYPSE and the #DouglassWeek team are joining forces to present a webinar series called ‘I Am Remarkable’. Joined by guest speakers, this event “will serve to highlight and promote the positive narratives of black people in Ireland”.
Get your free tickets here.