News / USA

Home of Slave Turned Civil Rights Leader Draws Crowds

Tourists visit the house that belonged to Frederick Douglass, a renowned orator and leading abolitionist

The home of Frederick Douglass, Cedar Hill, is drawing tourists in Washington, D.C.
The home of Frederick Douglass, Cedar Hill, is drawing tourists in Washington, D.C.

Multimedia

Chris Simkins

In the United States, February is Black History Month, a time when observances pay tribute to people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. Communities across the country have promoted historic sites that serve as tributes to the past. One of those places is in in Washington, D.C., where people are learning about the African-American leader Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave in 1818, but escaped to become a leading abolitionist.

Tourists come to it in search of a slice of African-American history. A tour guide takes them through.

"Now the irons that you see up here are the various irons the Douglass family used," says the guide. "This iron is really interesting. This is an iron for putting ruffles in a woman's dress. So it demonstrates the type of people who were living in the house."

The home, Cedar Hill,  belonged Douglass after slavery was abolished in 1865.  National Park Service Ranger Kamal McClarin says visitors come away inspired.  "That transition from slavery to freedom and living in a home like this really provides the public with tremendous inspiration and demonstrating those notions of self determination, you can rise from nothing to something."

Douglass purchased Cedar Hill in a "whites only" neighborhood. He lived there with his family from 1877 to his death in 1895.

More than 60,000 people have visited the home since it was restored in 2006. Thomas Fenske, a historian who came with friends, is one of them. He says tourists stopped coming in the 1970s because the house had fallen into disrepair. He's glad it's been renovated and is now a national historic site.

"Frederick Douglass was very very important as a founder of the civil rights movement," says Fenske. "He talked with President Lincoln and advised Lincoln on various things and of course was one of our country's great writers. So I think its important to have a house like this to keep his memory alive."

Today, vistors see how he lived and learn about his journey from a dedicated opponent of  slavery in the early 19th century America, to an advocate of women's rights, to one of the most respected African-American orators of the 1800's.

"I learned that Frederick Douglass escaped from being a slave and he went through a lot of hard times but he taught himself how to read  and write and became very educated and successful," says Sarah Ward, who toured the home recently.

Susan Nako brought her family from New York so her son, Simon, could learn about Douglass.

"Simon's list for his first grade class for Black History Month did not include Frederick Douglass," says Nako. "and I am appalled because he is my hero from when I was a little girl."

Michael Scott and his wife came from nearby Virginia. He says its important for African Americans to learn about their leaders.

"In this day and time, a lot of African American children don't know about Frederick Douglass. In order for us to go forward, we have got to remember our past and where we came from and those who paved the way for us."

The National Park Service, which manages Frederick Douglass' home, is working on expanding the tour as interest grows among people seeking knowledge about African-American leaders.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More