Frederick Douglass walking trail unveiled in Cork to highlight links to anti-slavery activist

Orator visited Ireland in 1845 to build support for the abolitionist cause in America

Frederick Douglass: escaped slavery and became a prominent abolitionist, orator and writer. Photograph: MPI/Getty Images

Frederick Douglass: escaped slavery and became a prominent abolitionist, orator and writer. Photograph: MPI/Getty Images

 

A direct descendant of American abolitionist, social reformer, writer and statesman Frederick Douglass will join a star from the hit musical Hamilton on Thursday to launch an “Abolitionists” walking trail in Cork.

The trail across the city has been created to trace the footsteps of Mr Douglass who visited Cork in 1845.

Born into slavery, Douglass would become a powerful leader in the anti-slavery movement in the United States in the 19th century. He visited Ireland in 1845 to build support for the abolitionist cause in America.

He spent a month in Cork, delivering powerful denunciations of slavery to crowds of thousands.

Douglass had a decisive impact on America’s path to abolishing slavery and his contribution to American history is now being fully recognised.

The Cork Abolitionists Trail, created by Douglass Week and Cork City Council, takes in 12 locations, including the city courthouse where Douglass delivered a two-hour speech titled “I Am Here to Spread Light on American Slavery”.

The Imperial Hotel was the setting for his “American Prejudice Against Colour” speech on the afternoon of Thursday, 23rd October, 1845. Douglass declared at the hotel that there is “nothing slavery dislikes half so much as the light”.

While in Cork, Douglass stayed with the Unitarian Thomas Jennings and his family at Brown Street (now Paul Street). His final speech in the city was at 74 George’s Street, which also served as the weekly meeting place for the Cork Ladies Anti-Slavery Society.

The Cork Abolitionists Trail identifying locations associated with Frederick Douglass’ visit.
The Cork Abolitionists Trail identifying locations associated with Frederick Douglass’ visit.

The trail route will be launched at the Frederick Douglass mural in Cork city. A great-great-great grandson of Douglass, Kenneth B Morris, Jr will be in attendance , as will American actor Paul Oakley Stovall.

The Tony-Award-winning actor, who has a key role in the musical Hamilton,is in Ireland to research a television series about Douglass in Ireland.