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Public Invited to Read Frederick Douglass Historic Speech on Martha's Vineyard Inkwell Beach July 4
Abigail McGrath, founder of Renaissance House Retreat for Writers & Artists in Martha's Vineyard, Invites People of All Ages to Participate in Free Annual Reading of Frederick Douglass' Landmark Speech "What Does Fourth of July Mean to the Negro?"
By: Renaissance House Retreat for Artists & Writers
Readers of all ages are invited to help bring the words of Frederick Douglass to life. Each volunteer reader will recite different sections of the 10,000-plus word address Douglass wrote during American slavery in 1852. Although it's been 166 years since Frederick Douglass delivered his Fourth of July speech at a convention in Rochester, New York, the message is especially resonates during today's turbulent political era.
"It's a stand for diversity and human rights," said Abigail McGrath, Founder of Renaissance House Retreat for Writers & Artists and host of the event. McGrath is a lifelong Martha's Vineyard resident who created this community reading to celebrate the continuing impact of Douglass, the first Black citizen in U.S. history to hold a high-ranking government office. "Frederick Douglass' words are being carried out over the Atlantic waters where millions of Africans lost their lives during the Middle Passage. These blue waters are the perfect natural backdrop for public open-air readings of the most powerful anti-slavery message of all time."
"It's been an honor over these years to be a part of what has become a Vineyard tradition. Each year we come together, we breathe new life into Frederick Douglass' powerful words," said Themba. They sound like they were written today. You cannot read them or listen to them and not be moved - especially in these times."
Renaissance House is a writers and artists' retreat sponsored by the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation. West, the author of the award-winning novel and film The Wedding, and her poet cousin Johnson (Mc Grath's mother) were writers during the Harlem Renaissance. In fact, McGrath, an author, playwright and filmmaker, was the inspiration for the novel The Wedding. At Renaissance House writers and other artists are provided with a subsidized retreat away from life's responsibilities and the space in which to create new works of art. It is one of the few retreats designed for issue-oriented writers, writers of color and writers of social justice.
Readers are requested to arrive by 3:30pm. The reading begins at 4:00pm. The public is invited to attend the performance. For more on the Frederick Douglass reading on July 4, please call Renaissance House at 917-747-0367 or email Renaissancehse@
Renaissance House Retreat for Artists & Writers