Belfast Unveils A Frederick Douglass Statue In Europe
A life-size statue of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass was recently unveiled in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. With the unveiling, the city has become the first in Europe to bestow the former American slave with a statue.
According to BBC News, the statue of Douglass is located on Rosemary Street, close to where he addressed crowds back in 1845. Douglass visited Belfast several times after being invited there by the Belfast Anti Slavery Society in the 1840s.
The unveiling took place last month. Historian and professor Christine Kinealy said that Douglass, who’d gone to Ireland to escape recapture and a return to slavery in the United States, loved Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular. In one of his speeches he stated, “Whenever else I feel myself to be stranger, I will remember I have a home in Belfast.”
Ryan Murphy, lord mayor of Belfast, said that showcasing the statue of Douglass is a “positive news story for the city.”
“His writings and his values are just as relevant today as they were in the 19th century, when he was touring Ireland,” Murphy said.
Tom Thorpe, a historian and tour guide in the city, said that having the statue there was a good thing, as Belfast was an “anti-slavery city.” “Many people in Belfast did own slaves,” he qualified, but when some tried to set up a slave ship company in the city in 1786, the city opposed it, and it never came to pass.
“The anti-slavery cause was followed by people from across the political divide, unionists and nationalists, but also from the Catholic and Presbyterian communities,” said Thorpe.
Several students who witnessed the unveiling of the Douglass statue are part of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship.