Tools of the Trade

American Writers Museum/Tools of the Trade
American Writers Museum
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The American Writers Museum celebrates American writers through innovative, state-of-the-art exhibitions and compelling programming.

Frederick Douglass AGITATOR

Featured in the Roberta Rubin Writer’s Room through May 2019, “Frederick Douglass AGITATOR” coincides with Douglass’ bicentennial year and includes related education and public programs. Douglass escaped from slavery to become one of the most eloquent voices of abolitionism and his words remain a touchstone for anyone fighting inequality or pushing America to fulfill its promise of ensuring equality for all.

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Frederick Douglass was passionate about the written word. In his first memoir, he called learning to read his “pathway from slavery to freedom.” Denied access to words during the first part of his life, he spent the rest of his life crafting them. Over the course of his long life, he wrote three memoirs, one novella, and thousands of essays and speeches (not to mention countless letters and poems). Frederick Douglass AGITATOR highlights excerpts from his speeches and writings, some recorded by students from Young Chicago Authors. Other excerpts include Douglass’ speech on Haiti at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and The Reason Why pamphlet he and Ida B. Wells distributed to protest African-American exclusion from the fair.

Douglass was an early adopter of photography. He immediately recognized its potential to present an image of black people different from that of the slave. Between 1841 and his death in 1895, Douglass sat for dozens of portraits, becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century. A large photo mosaic of Frederick Douglass made out of dozens of his portraits welcomes visitors to the exhibit.

Artifacts in the exhibit include Frederick Douglass’ inkwell and glasses, on loan from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, an AWM Author Home Affiliate.

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