Cornell University

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Panel Discussion on Frederick Douglass in 2021: Lessons for our Current Moment

Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Virtual Event

You’re invited to a birthday party for Frederick Douglass for Douglass Day 2021!

Born enslaved, Frederick Douglass emancipated himself at the age twenty and quickly became one of the preeminent intellectuals and activists of the nineteenth century. Although he never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14th. 

Together with libraries and digital scholarship centers around the country, we celebrate this date as a moment for creating and preserving Black history together.

This year, Cornell University Library celebrates with two events: a panel discussion about reading Douglass in 2021, with distinguished Cornell faculty, and a transcribe-a-thon of the papers of Mary Church Terrell.

What can Douglass’ long career as abolitionist, writer, and transnational freedom dreamer teach us about our current moment and the Movement for Black Lives? What lessons does his analysis of U.S. Reconstruction’s potential and its failures offer as we continue to reckon with white supremacy, settler colonialism, and systemic inequality on a global level? Join us as we kick off Cornell University’s Douglass Day 2021 celebrations with a roundtable discussion of Frederick Douglass’s life and legacy featuring distinguished Cornell faculty. 

  • Carole Boyce Davies, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Africana Studies and Literatures in English
  • Robert Harris, Professor Emeritus, Africana Studies
  • Ishion Hutchinson, Associate Professor, Director of Creative Writing Program
  • Shirley Samuels, Professor of English 
  • Margaret Washington, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of American History
  • Moderator: Derrick R. Spires, Associate Professor of Literatures in English

Douglass Day 2021 is presented by:
Center for Black Digital Research, Penn State
By the People, Library of Congress
Penn State University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts

Sponsored locally by:
Cornell University Library Digital CoLab
Cornell University Library Rare and Distinctive (RAD) Collections

Dial-In Information

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Event Type

Panel Discussion, Special Event, Presentation


Cornell University Library, English, History, Africana Studies and Research Center


africal, engdep



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Eliza Bettinger

Speaker Affiliation

Africana Studies, Creative Writing Program, English, American History

Dept. Web Site

Disability Access Information

Closed Captioning will be available

Open To

Free and open to all

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