AHS Hosts Frederick Douglass Community Reading

Potter Place Festival, Saturday, June 29

Press release
Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, and heroic orator for liberty.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and heroic orator for liberty, delivered one of his most famous speeches in which he asked, “What to the slave is your Fourth of July?” In addressing an Independence Day observance in Rochester, New York, his speech was a blistering indictment of an American idealism that ignored and accepted the inhuman treatment of enslaved African Americans as part of the country’s identity and economy. Ironically, even though Douglass’ words spoke directly to this moment in history, they still ring with an unsettling power today.

For the past several years, the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire has collaborated with community leaders around the Granite State to bring people together to read Douglass’ historic protest speech and to reflect on its meaning, which happens on the Saturday before the 4th of July at 12 PM.

This year the Andover Historical Society is very excited to be part of this important program at the site of our own Richard Potter BHTNH Marker in Potter Place during the Potter Place Festival.  Readers from Andover and East Andover as well as from Wilmot and New London will share in the reading of this speech.

While reading Frederick Douglass’ work is a powerful experience for many, it is only one piece of the long-overdue conversations that our communities need to have. The BHTNH hopes that these readings will be a starting point for these difficult dialogues and that they will provide an opportunity for us to engage in deeper conversations that will lead to actions to help build more inclusive and just communities today.