Legislation commemorating the chosen birthday of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was signed into law on Monday.
The resolution declares February 14 as ‘Frederick Douglass Day’ in New Jersey.
Frederick Douglass, a renowned African-American abolitionist, human rights activist, author, and public speaker, was born into slavery in or around 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland. Douglass’ exact birthdate is unknown, but during his lifetime he chose to celebrate his birth annually on February 14. After years of slavery and abuse, he escaped from slavery in 1838 at the age of 20 and began attending and giving speeches at abolitionist meetings.
“Frederick Douglass was the Father of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “His life’s work to end slavery was the foundation for all who came after and worked to end racial injustice in this country. Honoring Mr. Douglass in this way ensures New Jersey children now and in the future understand the importance of his contributions to history.”
“Frederick Douglass is a truly inspirational figure in American history,” said Senator Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Although he was born into slavery, he never lost his belief of equality for all. We still have so much to learn from the strength and moral character of Douglass and should formally honor his legacy.”
Douglass was chosen, in 1843, to become part of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s Hundred Conventions Project, which was a six-month tour across the United States. He shared his experiences with slavery and spoke publically about the importance of abolishing slavery and ensuring equality for all Americans.
“Frederick Douglass’ legacy is one of self-determination, activism and freedom,” said Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “We celebrate his legacy as well as his work to secure the freedom of slaves through education, activism and journalism. We can see his spirit alive in the movement we see today for racial justice and equality and an end to violence.”
“The impact of Frederick Douglass, a man born over 200 years ago, can still be felt today. He was a moral torch-bearer for America when the young country had very little morality to hold on to,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson). “His story is the American story, and his words have paved the path towards equality and justice for centuries. While he didn’t live in New Jersey, his life touched every corner of this nation and it should be honored, therefore, in every state.”
“Frederick Douglass’ fight continues to this day,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Though slavery has been abolished in most forms, an America of equal opportunity for all is still a long ways away. In a moment when our streets are crying out Black Lives Matter, honoring the legacy of Fredrick Douglass is as poignant as ever before.”
“Acknowledging and honoring Frederick Douglass’ place in history is important to day as we see the continued fight for racial justice and equality around the country,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “His legacy will continue to live on in New Jersey history with the signing of this law.”