[Extensions of Remarks]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
INTRODUCTION OF THE FREDERICK DOUGLASS BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION ACT
HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON
of the district of columbia
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill, along with
Representative Andy Harris of Maryland, that would establish a
bicentennial commission to study ways that the federal government might
honor and celebrate the life of Frederick Douglass during the
bicentennial anniversary of his birth, in 2018.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818 on the Eastern Shore
of Maryland. He learned basic reading skills from his mistress and
continued to teach himself and other slaves to read and write despite
the risks he faced, including death. After two attempts, Douglass
successfully escaped to New York and became an abolitionist and anti-
slavery lecturer. He went on to serve in several administrations,
including as a close advisor to President Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Marshal
of the District of Columbia under President Rutherford B. Hayes, and
District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds under President James Garfield.
In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Frederick Douglass to be
the U.S. minister to Haiti. He was later appointed by President Ulysses
S. Grant to serve as secretary of the commission of Santo Domingo.
Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans.
He lived in the District of Columbia for 23 of his 57 years as a free
man and his home at Cedar Hill was established as a National Historic
Site in Southeast Washington, D.C. The Frederick Douglass statue that
stands in his honor in the United States Capitol is a gift from the
nearly 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia.
My bill would establish a commission to examine ways the federal
government can honor Douglass during the bicentennial anniversary of
his birth, including the issuance of a Frederick Douglass bicentennial
the convening of a joint meeting or joint session of Congress for
ceremonies and activities relating to Frederick Douglass, a
rededication of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the
acquisition and preservation of artifacts associated with Frederick
Douglass. The commission would report its findings and recommendations
I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.