WASHINGTON — The National Park Service kicked off a yearlong celebration Sunday honoring the “Life and Legacy” of Frederick Douglass on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Douglass was a prominent abolitionist, orator and statesman who was born into slavery in 1818. He escaped to freedom 20 years later.
“He was an abolitionist, civil rights activist, social rights, equality, women’s rights hero. He fought for equality for everyone,” said Pya Langley, a spokeswoman with the National Park Service.
Douglass always thought his birthday was on Valentine’s Day “because his mother referred to him as her little valentine,” said Langley.
Langley said records show Douglass was actually born on Feb. 17, 1818.
“Frederick Douglass (moved) to this Anacostia neighborhood when he (was) 59-years-old,” she said.
Douglass and his wife Anna Murray Douglass were married for 44 years. His wife died five years after moving into their D.C. home.
Douglass married Helen Pitts Douglass 18 months later.
Douglass’ house in Anacostia is a museum that’s open for tours. His rarely-seen Bible is on temporary display at the visitors center at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia.
Seventy percent of the artifacts inside the Douglass home are original. Douglass died in his Anacostia home from a heart attack on Feb. 20, 1895. He was 77.
Following his death, his second wife preserved the home known as “Cedar Hill,” as his memorial.
In 1962, the care of the home was transferred to the National Park Service.