In the midst of Black History Month, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated abolitionist Frederick Douglas’ 200th Birthday by unveiling a newly refurbished portrait of the former slave turned Black educational leader.
The unveiling took place at the John A. Wilson Building inside of Bowser’s Ceremonial Room, a space usually used for official meetings.
Special guests included D.C. Secretary Lauren Vaughn as well as Tara Morrison, superintendent of the National Park Service’s Anacostia Park.
The blue painting dates back to 1936 when it was first displayed by Recorder of Deeds William J. Tompkins during his term in office from 1934 to 1944. Douglass lived his final years above the Anacostia River in a home called Cedar Hill, now preserved as the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
Douglass considered Valentine’s Day his celebration of life since he had no knowledge of his actual birthdate. His mom, Harriet Bailey, always called him “my valentine,” spurring Douglass to take up the date for himself.
“There’s no better thing that we can do on this Valentine’s Day but to recognize her Valentine, Frederick Douglass,” said Bowser.
Bowser will continue to spread the #BlackHistoryDC Month message throughout the coming week with a host of events in the D.C. metro area in memory of Douglas and his worldwide legacy.