Now that Frederick Douglass is out from under the trees next to Highland Bowl and at the corner of South Avenue and Robinson Drive, it’s easier to pay tribute to the abolitionist, orator and publisher.
“We have this statue moved here to this wonderful location, now we can start doing some things,” said the Rev. Julius D. Jackson Jr., who advocated for a decade to have the statue placed in a prominent location with lighting.
Jackson’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, laid a wreath at the statue on Dec. 27. The fraternity made Douglass a posthumous member on Dec. 27, 1921, and current members honored that anniversary this past December.
Jackson all but scribbled an idea on a piece of paper so he could go back to sleep: Why not use Feb. 14, Douglass’ chosen birthday because his mother called him “her little Valentine,” to show him some love.
In the light of day, he ran it by others involved in celebrating Douglass.
“How appropriate would it be for our county exec and the mayor to do likewise, and I’d invite the public,” Jackson said.
Jackson is hoping that throughout the day – from midnight to midnight – people will place wreaths, flowers or make other tributes to Douglass at the statue at Highland Park.
County Executive Adam Bello is scheduled to visit at 9 a.m. and Mayor Lovely Warren at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 14.
In December, the county celebrated the completed moved of the statue, the first in the nation to honor achievements of an African American. An official celebration is scheduled for June 9. Jackson presented his Valentine’s Day idea to people involved in the June event.
“This is somewhat of an advertisement for that,” said Jackson, pastor at Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.
“There’s nothing really been done for Douglass in years,” he said. “With it being on Valentine’s Day, how appropriate to show Douglass love on his birthday with flowers.”
Jackson said Douglass never knew the official date of his birth. His adopted birth date is one day before the birthday of suffragist and contemporary Susan B. Anthony. A statue of the two having tea is in a park near the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House on Madison Street.
For more on placing wreaths at the Douglass statue, email Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.