Through its Reading Frederick Douglass Together program, Mass Humanities coordinates annual public readings of Frederick Douglass’ famous Fourth of July address “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” with communities and organizations around the state. At a typical reading, a group of people take turns reading parts of the speech until they have read all of it. The civic, cultural, and service organizations that collaborate with Mass Humanities to hold readings decide where and how each reading is conducted, as well as what is done before and after. These readings open up discourse on race relations and citizenship and raise awareness of the influential role slavery continues to play in our history and national discourse.
The program’s flagship event takes place in Boston each year, but any individual or organization can host a reading in their community. In the past, events have drawn notable attendees like the Governor of Massachusetts, as well as many members of the general public. To organize a Reading Frederick Douglass Together event, apply for a Civil Rights Discussion Grant.
Reading Frederick Douglass programming was created in collaboration with Community Change, Inc. of Boston and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.