Frederick Douglass' Work Goes On...

On September 10, 1885,  The Weekly Commonwealth (Topeka, Kansas) published a reflection by Frederick Douglass about his friend and former abolitionist associate, John Brown. Although John Brown’s violent uprising failed and Brown was executed as a seditionist, his life continued to inspire others as indicated in the American Civil War camp song, John Brown’s Body. The songs lyrics call out: John Brown’s body lies a-mold’ring in the grave – His soul goes marching on

Douglass picked up on this as he eulogised his friend:

He [John Brown] was with the troops during that war, he was seen in every camp fire, and our boys pressed onward to victory and freedom, timing their feet to the stately stepping of Old John Brown as his soul went marching on.

In a similar way, Frederick Douglass’ animated passion and spirit is marching on to this day in various initiatives. Some of them focus more broadly on the modern variations of the issues the Douglass championed. Others ironically look very similar to the events and situations of Douglass’ time. Here are just a couple of those initiatives which carry on both Douglass’ name and spirit…

  • Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives – Since its inception in 2007, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives has been advocating for a more equitable world on the issues of human trafficking and racism. Co-founded by direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, FDFI is headquartered in Rochester, NY — a place Frederick Douglass once called home.
  • Douglass-O’Connell Global Internship (formerly known as the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship) – 10 exceptional student leaders will be selected for a transformative summer internship program in Dublin, Ireland, where they will draw inspiration from the legacies of two remarkable social justice leaders: Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell.  

    During this unique eight-week program, Douglass-O’Connell Global Interns will participate in a work placement in an Irish organisation and receive academic credit while participating in a special exploration of the influence Daniel O’Connell had on Frederick Douglass and their lifetime legacies as successful businessmen and leaders of social change.  

    The program pays tribute to Frederick Douglass’ transformative experience visiting Ireland more than 175 years ago, when Douglass was embraced by the Irish people and met the famous Irish reformer, Daniel O’Connell. This immersive opportunity celebrates their exceptional contributions to society and their notable business acumen, inspiring young professionals to emulate their success and apply their principles in the modern world. Co-sponsored by CIEE, the Government of Ireland, and the African American Irish Diaspora Network, the program pays homage to these distinguished figures by integrating the values of equality, entrepreneurship, and advocacy into a dynamic and educational internship experience. 

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