Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.
Freedom Struggles Weekend – February 10-13, 2007
Fred Douglass IV and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth Part II
On Tuesday, February 13 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:45, the day will start with a breakfast at the House of the Lord Church. The caravan consisting of cars and buses will depart the House of the Lord Church at 9:00 a.m. to visit the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights. The Plymouth Church was pastored forty years by the Rev. Dr. Henry Ward Beecher whose huge statue sits near the courts in Cadman Plaza. Dr. Beecher was a fierce and feared abolitionist. He was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stow. She wrote the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” which depicts the dehumanization of the slavery. Abraham Lincoln, who spoke at the Plymouth Church at least twice, said that the book written by Ms. Stowe helped start the Civil War. Also, Dr. Beechum was a friend of Fred Douglass. He raised a lot of money for the anti slavery movement.
At 9:15 a.m., there will be a lecture and guided tour regarding the history of the Church. In an area near the church are several safe houses where slaves found refuge. Also, in the vicinity lived the Tappan Brothers who help to finance the anti slavery movement. The Tappan Brothers later became Dunn and Brad Street. Rev. J. W. C. Pennington lived in the area. He was a courageous abolitionist who was kicked off a carriage. He refused to move when commanded to do so. In the same vein, a hundred years before Rosa Parks, 1854, Ms. Elizabeth Jennings tried to board a carriage. She too, refused to move.
Leaving the Plymouth Church, the caravan will stop at the African Bury Ground. There will be a brief ceremony at 10:15 a.m., making the connection between the African interred in the burial ground, surely, some of Mr. Douglass’ contemporaries were buried there, and the continuing struggles of African people. The burial ground is on Duane and Elk Streets. It is in back of the federal building which fronts Broadway. The government’s name for the building is Congressmen Ted Weiss Building. The community’s name is Fred Douglass Building.
The burial ground was discovered in 1991. Chris Moore called and informed me that African bones were dug up as the government was excavating for the construction of high rise buildings. I was one of the first to go down into the burial site. I saw the remains and was overwhelmed with emotions. I was transfixed. It was a while before I could move. Years of struggle followed to prevent the desecration of the burial ground. Some of the leaders in that struggle were Sonny Carson, Congressman Savage, Dr. John Henry Clark, Noel Pointer, Basil Patterson, The Dicks, Juanita, Ollie McLean, Crimson Brown (who was with me when I went down into the site), and Charles Barron to name a few. The construction ceased when we threatened to stop the cranes with our bodies. A compromise was struck which produced the present arrangement.
Departing from the burial ground, a ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Hudson Pier next to Stuyvesant High School. In 1838, Fred Douglass escaping slavery arrived in New York at the site in question.
On our annual freedom walks which we started doing in 2005, the longest walk was from Brooklyn, N. Y. to Washington, D. C. in conjunction with the Million More Movement. We followed the path of the Underground Railroad. During that march my primary emphasis was the state of health in general and people of African ancestry in particular. The shorter freedom walks starts at the House of the Lord Church, passes some of the sites already mentioned and concludes at the Hudson Pier. On one of our walks, we notice that there was no marking to identify the site. In 2005, I along with Councilman Charles Barron approached Mr. Robert Tierney, chairman of the New York City Landmarks Commission, regarding putting a marker or stature at the site of Douglass’ entry. The meeting took place in Mr. Barron’s office.
Sometime after the meeting with Mr. Tierney a marker was placed at the site. We were never informed. We discovered it in 2006, as we concluded our freedom walk. Immediately, plans were made for the ceremonies that we are projecting. The month of February was chosen because it is the month of Fred Douglass’ birthday. The actual date is unknown. It is thought that Fred Douglass chose February 14. Also, February is Black History Month.
To be continued
Organizing Meeting on Darfur
each Thursday, noon to two p.m.
at The House of the Lord Church 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
On February 8, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.
I will be speaking at
Technology Resource Center
27 South Van Brunt Street
Englewood, New Jersey