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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid