The second annual Underground Railroad Month opened on Sept. 1 with the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass Park. (Photos courtesy of the Executive Office of the Governor)
By Jessica Dortch
AFRO News Editor
The ceremony to celebrate the official launch of International Underground Railroad Month kicked off on Sept. 1 at the Frederick Douglass Park in Talbot County. The event featured selections from the Friends in Faith singers and remarks from Talbot County City Council President Corey Pack, Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford and Kenneth B. Morris Jr., a descendant of both Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington.
In September 2019, Gov. Larry Hogan officially declared the first month-long celebration to acknowledge and honor Marylanders like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass who dedicated their lives to eradicating slavery and uplifting the Black community, and to bring worldwide awareness to the significance of the Underground Railroad.
Talbot County City Council President Corey Pack spoke briefly about the significance of the 66.96 acre property purchased in 2006 to honor Talbot County’s native son Frederick Douglass before introducing Lt. Gov. Rutherford, who would expound on his impact in the state of Maryland and the world. “These great figures in our history are famous because of what they had to overcome,” Lt. Gov. Rutherford explained to the small crowd. “ never gave up on gaining their freedom and helping others to do the same.”
The Lt. Governor talked about Maryland’s “proud, but also complicated history” referring to early Marylanders’ mixed emotions on the topic of slavery. “I have always been very vocal in my belief that we should not ignore history or run away from our past. We must acknowledge the pain that still exists today, and we must use our history as an opportunity to have that long overdue conversation on race and to do a better job of accurately reflecting our history, particularly when it comes to the Civil War, the struggles of African Americans in our state and past attempts at reconciliation.”
After his remarks, the Lt. Governor presented an official Governor’s citation, recognizing the month of September as International Underground Railroad Month. He made a call to action for all Marylanders to reflect and acknowledge the work that needs to be done to ensure true liberty and justice for all.
Kenneth B. Morris Jr., descendent of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, who is the president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative, addressed the group in a video presentation that highlighted the ongoing fight for justice in the country. “Douglass would not have been surprised by the unequal impact that virus has had on populations of color, just like he would not have been surprised that George Floyd and many other Black bodies have been murdered at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve us.”
Morris went on to tell the audience that Douglass would call others to “agitate,” when it comes to injustice and racism, using their lives to be the change that they want to see in the world.
The outdoor exhibit in the Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe was unveiled after the ceremony and is now available for all to see. The socially distanced event was also streamed live for viewers who could not attend the gathering. All are encouraged to celebrate this significant movement in history. To view the ceremony, visit www.Facebook.com/TravelMD.