For Douglass Day 2021, the CDH will be sponsoring two events on Saturday, February 13. You must register for each event separately; registration links are provided below. We also encourage you to join the national events on February 12 and 14.
Abolition: Then and Now
Saturday, February 13, 1:00-2:15 pm EST
This event will feature presentations by undergraduate Princeton University students on their collaborative, virtual exhibition entitled “Abolition: Then and Now.” The students put this exhibition together as part of a final project for a fall 2020 course on the writings of Frederick Douglass and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Supported by the 250th Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, the course—taught by Professor Eduardo Cadava and supported by undergraduate Shannon Chaffers ’22—encouraged the students to think about the ways in which the writings of these two towering American figures can be used as resources not only for addressing contemporary socio-political issues but also for doing political work, and especially work that goes in the direction of addressing, engaging, and perhaps even overcoming the history of racial injustice in America. As part of this year’s Douglass Day celebration, the students will present the portion of their exhibition devoted to Douglass and to everything that we have inherited from his activism, determination, and ethical force and from which we can gather the strength to further the struggles that he believed were so necessary, and that remain so even today.
Please be aware that one of the presentations includes a potentially disturbing image. The presenter will provide a warning in advance of showing the image.
What's in a Name? A Discussion with Princeton University and Public School Students
Saturday, February 13, 3:00-4:30 pm EST
In June 2020, the Princeton University Board of Trustees voted to change the names of the University’s School of Public and International Affairs and of Wilson College. As President Christopher Eisgruber wrote at the time, “the trustees concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms.” Two months later, the Princeton Public School Board of Education voted to remove the name John Witherspoon from the town’s middle school; Witherspoon, a Princeton resident who signed the Declaration of Independence, was a slaveholder.
At this panel, students and teachers from Princeton Public Schools and Princeton University undergraduates will discuss their experiences advocating for these renamings. Why did these issues matter to them? What did they learn from being part of these important events? What can others gain from their experiences? As panelists reflect on these transformational moments in their communities, we will all have a chance to look back on a critical year for racial justice advocacy in Princeton and beyond.
About Douglass Day
Douglass Day is an annual event to celebrate Frederick Douglass’s chosen birthday of February 14. Each year, people all over the country gather (this year, virtually) to learn more about Black history through a transcribe-a-thon and other events. This year, attendees are invited to transcribe the papers of civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell, the first president of the National Association of Colored Women. Terrell earned a master’s degree in education at Oberlin College in 1888, and spent part of her career as a teacher and school administrator. It is fitting, then, that the Princeton-area Douglass Day celebration should bring together teachers and students for conversations about activism.