I spoke with Harriette Lowery in early January about the Frederick Douglass Honor Society‘s efforts to celebrate FD’s 200th birthday. She, her husband Eric, (pictured) and the wider Talbot County, MD, community were busy preparing for a prayer breakfast on February 10. A number of Douglass’ extended family were set to attend, including Rev. Clarence Wayman, whose great great great uncle was Douglass’ best friend, and Professor Dale Glenwood Green, a nephew of Wayman and also a descendant of Harriet Tubman.
Pamela K. Johnson: Tell me about the Frederick Douglass Honor Society.
Harriette Lowery: We came together basically just to put up a statue honoring Frederick Douglass. We learned that he was a native of the Talbot County, MD, and thought he should be honored in some way. We were so successful in getting the statue up, and bringing a diverse community together to support it, that it was hard to go home and close the door.
PKJ: So what happened next?
HL: We started doing other events. It became a mission to dedicate ourselves to putting together programs that continued to honor Douglass’ legacy, a legacy for human rights, education, personal growth and involvement… It was important for us to make sure people understood that he was not just an African American hero, but an American hero. His values are far reaching and cover everybody. The things he wrote and talked about, even today, resonate so strongly in how we raise our children, how we promote education for all citizens…
PKJ: The statue went up in 2011, what continues to spur the FD Honor Society on?
HL: The man himself, and what he represents in terms of his strength, his ability to rise above so much adversity in his life: enslavement, escape, trying to survive… Also he was always able to debunk the myths about African Americans not being able to be educated, to be self-made… After much of his success, he came back to dedicate churches, give speeches, and visit with the family that enslaved him. One plantation, where he was enslaved as a child, their descendants are still there. I know them; they’ve worked with us on a lot of events and have supported us financially.