What Do Valentine’s Day and Frederick Douglass Have In Common?
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This Valentine’s Day, ESSENCE needs to just be sure you’re additionally celebrating the birthday of abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass.

“Like a lot of these born into slavery, Frederick Douglass had no thought of the date of his start.” However throughout his lifetime Douglass determined that he would rejoice on February 14. However what made Douglass select Valentine’s Day?

In 1877, Frederick Douglass spoke with Captain Thomas Auld, a former grasp from when he was enslaved. “I advised him I had all the time been curious to know the way outdated I used to be and that it had been a severe hassle to me, to not know when was my birthday. He stated he couldn’t inform me that, however he thought I used to be born in February 1818.”

One other clue behind selecting the day of affection comes from one among Douglass’ personal books. In My Bondage and My Freedom, he recounted how his mother introduced him a cake the final assembly that they had collectively. “The ‘candy cake’ my mom gave me was within the form of a coronary heart, with a wealthy, darkish ring glazed upon the sting of it. I used to be victorious, and nicely off for the second; prouder, on my mom’s knee, than a king upon his throne.”

As well as, his mom reportedly used to name Douglass “her ‘Little Valentine.’”

Because the Washington Post reported, “[a]fter he received his freedom he celebrated St. Valentine’s Day as his birthday, since he felt he had a great a proper to have a birthday as different individuals, and he preferred the traditions surrounding that date.”

Within the years after Douglass died in 1895, faculties for Black kids in Washington, D.C. “began marking the noticed birthday as ‘Douglass Day.’” This was largely as a result of efforts of Black activist Mary Church Terrell.

As well as, the town additionally designated today as “a vacation for its segregated faculties.” By 1901, Chicago and different cities had been additionally observing Douglass Day. Outstanding Black individuals on the flip of the century wished to make sure that this is able to be “a day to mirror on his life and achievements would garner ‘respect of the race,’ ‘stir younger minds of the Negro kids,’ and profit future generations.”

Should you’re questioning why you won’t have heard of Douglass Day earlier than, it’s as a result of “commemorations ultimately disappeared with the rise of Black Historical past Month.”

However in 2017, “[a] group on the College of Delaware helped revive Douglass Day.” This 12 months for the primary time ever, “[t]he Library of Congress’ By the Folks initiative, in collaboration with the Heart for Black Digital Analysis at Pennsylvania State College” held a “transcribe-athon.” The aim: for all 8,731 pages of basic correspondence from Douglass to be transcribed in someday.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden stated, “Douglass Day honors the life and legacy of an important African American abolitionist, author and speaker, and the Library of Congress is thrilled to hitch Penn State in inviting all Individuals to transcribe his papers on this special occasion of celebration and remembrance.”


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