Black History Month Spotlight: Frederick Douglass
Written by Chalyn White, Study Abroad I-CORPS Intern
With the February 14th application deadline around the corner, and to celebrate Black History Month, we wanted to share more information about influential slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass. This article takes a look at his life and provides context behind the Frederick Douglass Fellowship, a fully funded study abroad opportunity for students of color, located in Dublin, Ireland for Summer 2022.
Frederick Douglass changed the lives of many people within the United States as well as Ireland. You cannot talk about abolishing slavery without mentioning Frederick Douglass, one of the most well-known abolitionist leaders of his time. However, some may still wonder who Frederick Douglass was and how he helped aid in ending slavery. To answer this question, we have to look to the past. Irish Times journalist Brendan Kelly offers a quick look into Douglass’s life in the article ‘Frederick Douglass and Ireland: In His Own Words’: A compelling account of a historic moment. Douglass was born in February 1818 and like many African Americans during this time, he was born into slavery. He spent the first twenty years of his life on a plantation until he successfully escaped in 1838, but that was just the beginning; he needed to make a living for himself. Luckily, Douglass had gained valuable skills from working in a shipyard during his time as a slave. Like many slaves during this time, he had to teach himself how to read and write, which became useful when he wrote his memoir, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” He was in need of a publishing company, which is where Quaker Printer, located in Dublin, came into play. They were the only publishing company willing to print his work, which is the main reason why he journeyed to Ireland.
Hannah Murray’s African American Mapping Project gives some insight into what Douglass felt while in Ireland. When he arrived, he was shocked by the kindness of the people there. He felt that they treated him not as a person of color, but as an actual human being. How he was treated during his stay had a drastic impact on Douglass and inspired him in continuing his fight for freedom and justice. While there, he was able to see both the good and bad sides of Ireland, which was vastly different compared to America. While the United States had the problem of slavery, Ireland struggled with class differences between the rich and the poor, which was further exacerbated by the potato famine. Seeing people suffer from poverty in Ireland and slavery in the United States motivated Douglass to fight to abolish slavery and fight for social justice.
His legacy has left behind a long-lasting impact in both countries. For this reason, the Council of International Education Exchange (CIEE) has created a fellowship for students of color to study abroad in Ireland, inspired by Frederick Douglass’s four month trip around the country. While abroad, students will get to meet with social activists and government leaders while studying sustainable social justice. This one month study abroad opportunity will allow students to understand the rich history of Ireland while also experiencing what Frederick Douglass observed while he was touring. The best part? This opportunity is a full ride study abroad experience, with the full cost of travel covered by CIEE. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, be sure to visit the Office of Study Abroad to complete advising and receive more information.
Applications for the CIEE Frederick Douglass Fellowship are due February 14th, so don’t delay!