The First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist and the Museum of Old Newbury will host a community reading of Frederick Douglass's impassioned 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro” on Sunday, June 30 at 10:30 am. 26 Pleasant Street, Newburyport. The shared reading will be followed by light refreshments. All are invited and welcome to attend.
Reading Frederick Douglass is an event held in various communities along the eastern seaboard to commemorate the July 5, 1852 oration made by Douglass at the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York, a city that was a center of abolitionist activities. This emotionally powerful and thought-provoking speech is as relevant today as it was in Douglass’s own lifetime.
Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery in September 1838. He made his way to New York City and eventually New Bedford where he was a laborer. In New Bedford, he became acquainted with the Liberator, an anti-slavery newspaper edited by William Lloyd Garrison. Douglass began attending anti-slavery meetings and spoke at a convention held on Nantucket in 1841. After the convention, John A. Collins, a general agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, urged Douglass to become a lecturer for his organization. It was with Collins that Douglass arrived in Newburyport in September 1841 – just three years after his miraculous escape from slavery. He spoke at the Prospect Street Church on the corner of Fair and Prospect Streets and stayed at the home of abolitionist Richard Plumer on Federal Street.
For the June 30 event, readers from the community will have the opportunity to read the Douglass speech. If you are interested in being a reader, please contact Kristen Fehlhaber at firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Edwards at email@example.com. This event is public and open to all, and we hope that you will join us to commemorate this important historical event.