- Cultural Calendar
Frederick Douglass was an escaped enslaved person who became an impassioned activist, abolitionist, and icon. His eloquence on the subject of equality and acceptance remains just as timely today as it was over two hundred years ago. “I would unite with anybody to do right,” he once said, “and with nobody to do wrong.”
However, it is an ironic fact that the brilliant Frederick Douglass would surely appreciate that while we now honor his birth date each February 14, Douglass himself was, until late in his life, not entirely sure of the date of his birth. Like many former enslaved people, he had never known his birthday, a fact that had caused him pain throughout his life. Years later, in 1877, one of his former owners, told Douglass on his deathbed that he believed that Douglass had been born in February 1818, a fact later confirmed by a ledger now kept in the Maryland Archives.
Frederick Douglass passed away on February 20, 1895, still fighting to the very end for social justice. As the years passed, schools began observing “Douglass Day,” with celebrations in dozens of cities across the U.S. through the years, and which eventually led to the celebration of Black History Month and the more formal recognitions of his truly towering achievements, at last… on his birthday.