On July 7, at 1:30 p.m., at the Farmington Friends Meetinghouse (187 County Road 8, Farmington), David Anderson, Community Scholar in Residence, Nazareth College, will present a reenactment and discussion of Frederick Douglass's famous speech, "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" This will be co-sponsored by the Rochester and Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission.
Frederick Douglass, who had escaped from slavery in Maryland to become a nationally known orator and editor of the North Star, gave this oration in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, on July 4, 1852. Do the "great principles of political freedom and natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence" extend to African Americans? he asked. The answer was "no." "The Fourth of July is yours, not mine." " The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men," he acknowledged. But their work was not yet done. "My business is with the present," said Douglass. How can we in the present carry out those ideals of "justice, liberty, and humanity"? His question echoes through the ages, challenging us today as well as his hearers in 1852.
Professor Anderson is a nationally known interpreter of African American stories—including stories of people who escaped from slavery and those who fought in the Civil War--through living history. He is Chair of the Rochester and Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission, a member of the National Association of Black Story-tellers, and founder of Akwaaba: Heritage Associates. He has presented programs in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, and England. In 2010, he received a national award for his work from the Underground Railroad Free Press.
Frederick Douglass spoke often in the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse, and he worked closely with abolitionists—white and black, Quakers and others—in central and western New York. As he noted in his 1892 biography, his talks in towns such as Victor, Macedon, Canandaigua, Farmington, and Rochester profoundly influenced both his oratory and his North Star editorials.
After Frederick Douglass (a.k.a. David Anderson) speaks at 1:00 p.m., the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse will be open, with a tour and discussion of restoration plans. Refreshments will be served. This program is funded in part by the New York Council for the Humanities.
Subsequent programs, also funded in part by the New York Council for the Humanities, include:
“Human Trafficking at Home and Abroad,” with Cindy Dyer, Vice-President for Human Rights, Vital Voices Global Partnership, on August 4, 1:30 p.m., Nazareth College, Shults Community Center, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester. Co-sponsored with Peace and Social Services Committee of the Farmington Friends Meeting, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Sisters of Mercy Justice Group.
“Faith and Politics: The Spiritual Journeys of Amy Post,” with Nancy Hewitt, Professor, Rutgers University, August 25 at 1:30 p.m., Farmington Friends Meetinghouse, 187 County Road 8.
“Land and Identity: Seneca and Quaker Perspectives on the Controversial Treaties of 1838 and 1842,” with Peter Jemison, Site Manager, Ganondagan; Judith Wellman, Professor, Colgate University; and Tonawanda Senecas. Co-sponsored with Ganondagan State Historic Site on September 20 at 7:00, Shults Community Center, Nazareth College.
For more information, see www.farmingtonmeetinghouse.org.
Judith Wellman 315-598-4387 firstname.lastname@example.org