EASTON — It was a day for Talbot County’s native son.

Frederick Douglass, the legendary former slave, abolitionist, author, statesman and more has a day named for him every year in his native Talbot County.

Saturday, Sept. 23, in Easton, there was a parade and welcome ceremony on the courthouse green, near the statue of Douglass that was erected six years ago.

The courthouse green happens to be near the place where Douglass had been jailed briefly in 1836 for talking to a young slave about escaping, the jail being on the north side of the courthouse.

From his jail cell, perhaps Douglass could have seen where the ceremony was held.

That area also is near where a regular slave market once operated, on the south side of the courthouse. Perhaps Douglass was able to see or hear that from his cell, back in 19th century Easton.

Saturday’s welcome ceremony included prayers the by Rev. Roland Brown from Union Baptist Church; presentation of the colors by the Easton High School NJROTC; the pledge of allegiance led by the youth of BAAM (Building African American Minds); Jaylen Howie as mistress of ceremonies; and guest speakers Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams, Easton Mayor Robert Willey, Talbot County Free Library Director Dana Newman, Talbot County Public Schools Superintendent Kelly Griffith, Frederick Douglass Honor Society President Eric Lowery and Bill Peak, Talbot’s “Library Guy” who read “Frederick Douglass,” a poem by Robert Hayden.

Music was provided by soprano Katelyn Cherry and members of BAAM.

Other live entertainment held outdoors on the blocked-off North West Street came from the Union Baptist Church Mass Choir, Scott’s United Methodist Youth Choir, DJ Allen Butler, Kim Blake-Wilson Praise Dance, hip-hop artists Amillion the Poet and Jamaal “Mr. Root” Collier.

Master of ceremonies for the entertainment portion was Lorenzo Hughes.

There was a steady stream of visitors to the Frederick Douglass Room at the Talbot County Free Library for a special exhibit featuring items on loan from the Frederick Douglass Home in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the National Park Service.

Artifacts included a walking stick that belonged to Douglass. It was made from wood in a house that had been constructed by early abolitionist John Brown.

Also, agricultural tools and other finds that had been used by the enslaved at the Wye House Plantation were on display, among other items from the archaeological digs there.

As a child, Douglass had been a slave at the Wye House plantation and could have known the workers who used the farming tools.

Lecturers included Dr. Mark Leone of the University of Maryland’s Department of Anthropology, who oversees, in part, the archaeological excavations at the Wye House Plantation and Easton’s “The Hill” neighborhood.

The Hill neighborhood also was showcased. Late in the afternoon, assistant professor Dale Glenwood Green of Morgan State University gave walking tours of several blocks of the area.

More than 150 people packed the library’s main meeting room in the afternoon to hear Kenneth B. Morris Jr., Douglass scholar and great-great-great-grandson of Douglass.

Morris also is great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

ArtWorks for Freedom, which is hosting a monthlong exhibit on human trafficking in the Waterfowl Festival Building on Harrison Street, contributed to Frederick Douglass Day by hosting a presentation and panel discussion on human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Speakers included Joseph Prud’homme of Washington College, Steven Hess of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, and Michele Harding and Ed Thomas of the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force.

An exhibit of embroidered faces of trafficking victims by Albanian artist Brikena Boci also enhanced visitors’ awareness.

Vendors with food, crafts and other services were in the municipal parking lot at Dover Street and Glenwood Avenue, and youngsters enjoyed the Children’s Village with games and activities.

A Frederick Douglass “Amazing Race” offered lots of prizes.

Frederick Douglass Day is the work of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, which is online at www.frederickdouglasshonorsociety.org and on Facebook.

Support came from the Maryland State Arts Council, the Talbot County Arts Council, Young Audiences Arts for Learning Maryland, Paul and Joann Prager, APG Media of Chesapeake/The Star Democrat, Easton Rotary Club Youth & Community Fund, the Talbot County Free Library, the Town of Easton, St. Matthew United Methodist Church, and a host of public and private donors.

Follow me on Twitter @chrisp_stardem. Email me at cpolk@stardem.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.