February is not only Black History Month. It’s also the birthday of famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and his Eastern Shore descendants are planning a celebration in his honor.
Records in the Maryland State Archives show that Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in the northeast corner of Talbot County near the town of Queen Anne in February 1818. Douglass self-liberated from Baltimore in 1838, changing his name to avoid capture when he arrived in Massachusetts. He went on to become a renowned orator, author, abolitionist, and statesman.
To honor Douglass’s life and legacy, the Bailey-Grocè Family Foundation will host a 206th birthday celebration on February 17, 2024, in Easton, Maryland, featuring theatrical performances, music, and art. “Frederick Douglass spent his life fighting for the cause of freedom, and his influence is still felt today,” says Tarence Bailey, Sr., the five-times great nephew of Douglass and founder of The Bailey-Groce Family Foundation. “We are celebrating Black History Month by celebrating Frederick Douglass. This is our second year for this event, and we plan to make it a yearly celebration.”
Festivities will begin at the Historic Avalon Theatre at 3 p.m. when actor Phil Darius Wallace performs his original one-man play, Frederick Douglass: Lion of Thunder. Wallace will be joined by Millicent Sparks who will present The Harriet Tubman Living History Experience. Theo Wilson, host of The History Channel’s I Was There, will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening, and Push Play D.C. featuring Donnell Floyd will provide music.
After the performances, Frederick Douglass family members will host a VIP dinner at the Waterfowl Building, also in Easton. Saxophone player Azu, a.k.a. The Prince of Ghana, will provide music, and the work of Maryland sculptor Richard Blake will be on display. Attendees are encouraged to wear African-style clothing to honor Douglass’s heritage.2
All proceeds from the evening support Operation Frederick Douglass on The Hill and the work of The Bailey-Grocè Family Foundation, Inc., with the ultimate goal of building an African- American Cultural Center.
For more information, visit fdhill.org. Tickets are $85 for the performance only and $135 including dinner and can be purchased online at avalonfoundation.org/events. Donations can be made to The Bailey-Grocè Family Foundation, Inc. at Shore United Bank or can be mailed to P.O. Box 266, Newcomb, MD 21653.