ANNAPOLIS — Governor Larry Hogan today signed a proclamation declaring 2018 as the “Year of Frederick Douglass” in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the famed abolitionist, writer, and orator. Known as the “Father of America’s Civil Rights Movement,” Douglass was born in Talbot County, Maryland, and his birthday is celebrated nationally on February 14. Maryland will honor Douglass’ life and legacy with special events, celebrations, and commemorations occurring around the state throughout the year.
The governor was joined by descendants of Frederick Douglass, as well as Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and county and state officials, to present the proclamation in a ceremony at the Maryland State House.
“Frederick Douglass’ contributions to society transcend race, nationality, or religion, and his fight for human rights and equality still resonates to this day,” said Governor Hogan. “I want to encourage all Marylanders to attend the events and programs that are planned in honor of the official Year of Frederick Douglass in Maryland.”
Governor Hogan also announced the introduction of a new driving tour, “Frederick Douglass: Following in His Footsteps.” The 131-mile journey highlights sites and areas of Maryland that were formative and impactful on the life of Frederick Douglass. From his birthplace on the Eastern Shore, to Baltimore where he escaped to freedom, visitors will be able to retrace his journey to freedom and his eventual return to Annapolis as a national leader.
“Frederick Douglass’ journey is a significant part of Maryland’s history,” said Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. “Despite his harsh experiences as a slave in his youth, Frederick Douglass worked relentlessly to gain freedom and justice for others through abolition. His acts of determination and courage have inspired our state and changed our nation.”
During the ceremony, documentary quilt storyteller Joan M.E. Gaither also unveiled three Frederick Douglass quilts – one for each of the three Maryland locations that shaped his life and legacy. More than 300 people of all ages helped to stitch the vibrant, mixed-media quilts. The quilts will be featured as a traveling display throughout the state during the year-long commemoration.
For a listing of Frederick Douglass-related events and activities taking place across Maryland throughout the year, and for more information on the new “Frederick Douglass: Following in His Footsteps” driving tour, visit http://www.visitmaryland.org/frederick-douglass or call 1-800-719-5900.
Visitors are encouraged to share their “Year of Frederick Douglass” on social media using the hashtag #FrederickDouglass.