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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.