Students perform winning speeches to honor Frederick Douglass’ birthday

Memorable speeches given by Frederick Douglass filled the halls at the Anacostia Arts Center in D.C. on Saturday.

The speeches were performed by student winners of a National Park Service contest.

“I thought that it was a good opportunity to inspire other people about him,” said nine-year-old Kaitlyn Saunders, a third grader at Inspired Teaching Public Charter School.

This year’s theme was women’s rights and Kaitlyn said Douglass inspired her.

“They shouldn’t be separated from men because we’re all people,” she said.

Assad Jenkins, 17, poses with a drawing he made of Frederick Douglass.

Kaitlyn Saunders, 9, gets ready to perform a speech by Frederick Douglass.

Assad Jenkins performs a speech by Frederick Douglass at Anacostia Arts Center.


Home-schooled 17-year-old high school senior Assad Jenkins, from Silver Spring, Maryland, chose to recite the speech “My Slave Experience in Maryland.”

“He did a lot to help this nation and this country. He fought against slavery in this country and he lives on in all of us,” Assad said.

Anacostia Art Center events coordinator Harvey Fitz said the event is just one of many
around the city today and is important for the community.

“Frederick Douglass was a resident of Anacostia,” Fitz said. “He spent the majority of his life making sure that the African-American race was recognized.”

The Anacostia Art Center is holding their first “Black to the Future” festival featuring their “melanin market” with local vendors on Feb. 29.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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