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Worcester State Community Explores Frederick Douglass’ Call for Ethical Action

With sponsorship from Mass Humanities, Worcester State University hosted an online event, “Reading Frederick Douglass Together,” a reading and discussion of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s powerful speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” on the evening of Sept. 9. The event drew more than 100 participants and featured 18 panelists.

The Mass Humanities program aims to bring communities across Massachusetts together in a focused discussion of Douglass’s jeremiad, which calls on citizens to recognize the evils of chattel slavery and to align America’s founding ideals with lived reality. Douglass advocated not only for the abolition of slavery but for the extension of human rights and civic privileges to all Americans.

The panel featured two Worcester State students, Anna Johnson and Tyanna McCaulsky, as well as several guests from the Worcester community: Che Anderson, the deputy cultural development officer in the City of Worcester; U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern; Cedric Arno, a community leader and media producer; Juan Matos, the Worcester city poet laureate; and Kristin Waters, Ph.D., emerita professor of philosophy.

Provost Lois Wims, Ph.D., introduced the occasion and participated in the reading with President Barry M. Maloney. Several participants commented on Douglass’s legacy to the contemporary moment, and Worcester State faculty members drew upon their backgrounds in history, literature, philosophy, and ethnic studies to contextualize Douglass’s call for ethical action.

See the whole presentation below:

Written by Associate Professor Heather Treseler, Ph.D., of the English Department.