Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall | Accidentally Wes Anderson

Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall

Washington DC, Washington DC | C.1935

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

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Born into the brutal conditions of American slavery, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey – widely known as Frederick Douglass – became a statesman, an orator, and a visionary of abolition whose legacy is memorialized in structures throughout the country, including here on the campus of Howard University.

Born into enslavement in Maryland in 1818, Douglass escaped the barbaric treatment at age 20 and made his way to New England where he worked with prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and developed his razor-sharp voice focused on severing the bondage of slavery in the U.S. Impassioned by his personal experience in slavery, Douglass emerged as a radical figure in contrast to his mentor and decided to forge his own path.

By 1845, Douglass began publishing his own work, leading with his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. This publication skyrocketed him to fame with 11,000+ copies circulated in the U.S. Fearful the publicity would attract the attention of his former enslaver, Douglass’ colleagues urged him to travel abroad, and so, Douglass embarked on his first tour of England and Ireland.

Upon his return, Douglass remained committed to his work in social reform. He continued to publish abolitionist papers and became involved with the women’s rights movement. After the Civil War, he became a member of the Board of Trustees at Howard University, a leading historically black college (HBCU).

The University decided to construct the Memorial Hall, they commissioned renowned African American architect Albert Cassell to lead the design. The Hall is located in The Yard and is home to the Departments of Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, History, and the R.O.T.C. Program. It is considered one of the most important buildings on Howard’s campus.

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