The University of Maryland College Park will dedicate a new monument and officially dedicate Frederick Douglass Square on Nov. 18.
According to the university’s website, Frederick Douglass Square will be used as a classroom and a monument to educate students about Douglass’ achievements in social justice and inspire future generations.
The square is located in front of the Hornbake Library, a popular location for student activities. The monument includes a seven-and-a-half foot bronze statue of Douglass created by renowned sculptor Andrew Edwards. The square features stone pavers and a cotton wall which both mark some of Douglass’ words.
Efforts to create the square were spearheaded by University of Maryland History Professor Ira Berlin, a professor at the university for nearly 40 years. Berlin told the AFRO that the campus bore no major reflection of Frederick Douglass, which for him was a problem.
“We have a symbol of the University as a turtle, we love our turtle, but the director of Admissions and I were walking across the campus one day and said, wouldn’t it be nice if we had something more intellectual,” said Berlin.
Berlin said that a monument of Frederick Douglass came to mind, as the social reformer and abolitionist was without question “the most important man that trolled the soil of Maryland.”
Berlin and a group of campus leaders called the North Stars worked to raise funds and make the project a reality. According to the University of Maryland student newspaper, The Diamonback, an estimated $600,000 dollars went into the project.
“The vision of myself and the North Stars was to have Frederick Douglass on campus to speak to the question of social justice,” said Berlin.
Douglass was a former slave and abolitionist who fought for women’s rights, immigrants and Native Americans. He became an international figure known for his oratory skills, earning a place as a symbol of social justice.
According to Berlin, original plans called for the statue to remain covered up until its unveiling. But in the wake of ongoing protests at the University of Missouri and other U.S. colleges over racial equality, students saw the Douglass monument as a place to rally for change.
“The word went out over tweets that we’re going to meet at Frederick Douglass Square,” Berlin said, “and students took pictures and they got around to supporting their colleagues on the University of Missouri.”
The Nov. 18 dedication ceremony will feature musical performances, remarks and tributes.