A statue of the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was toppled and removed from a park in Rochester, New York on Sunday. It’s not clear who did it.
The AP reports: “Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom. The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50 feet (15 meters) from its pedestal, police said. There was damage to the base and a finger.”
The date has significance. On July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a famous speech in Rochester entitled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
Independence Day, according to Douglass, “reveals to [the slave], more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”
The Democrat and Chronicle adds: “The speech followed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The Fugitive Slave Act denied slaves freedom if they escaped to a free state and required them to be returned to their masters. It also banned runaway slaves from testifying on their own behalf and from having a trial by jury. Douglass’ address is considered one of the most important antislavery speeches prior to the Civil War. New York emancipated slaves on July 4, 1827, 25 years before Douglass’ speech. The African American community chose to celebrate emancipation on July 5 instead of the national holiday, which is why Douglass chose to mark his speech on that day.”