By Kallie Stahl
Born enslaved, abolitionist leader Fredrick Douglass never knew his exact birthdate, so he chose to celebrate every year on Valentine’s Day. After Douglass’ death in 1895, many people, including Mary Church Terrell, (an activist, educator, and author), began honoring his legacy, celebrating “Douglass Day” every Feb. 14. What began as a recognition and remembrance of Douglass’ memory and life of activism grew into a “collective act of radical love for Black history.” In the 1920s, Dr. Carter G. Woodson expanded Douglass Day to a week-long celebration of Black history, and in the 1960s student groups turned Woodson’s week-long commemoration into a monthly celebration—”Black History Month.”
A more recently developed Douglass Day celebration is an annual Transcribe-a-thon when historical documents are read to commemorate and preserve Black history. “Transcriptions improve search, readability, and access to handwritten and typed documents for everyone.” Join fellow Villanovans at the University’s Transcribe-a-thon on Friday, Feb. 12, at noon. In addition to transcribing the papers of Mary Church Terrell, Dr. Charlene Sinclair, founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative, will also be presenting. Join the virtual event here.
Looking for more Douglass Day events? Join By the People (Library of Congress) for transcriptions of Terrell’s papers on Friday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 14. View the full schedule of events here. For more information on Mary Church Terrell, check out former graduate assistant Daniella Snyder’s blog post.