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Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act Becomes Law

November 2, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC: On Thursday, November 2, President Trump signed into law H.R. 2989, the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act. This legislation establishes a commission to plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities to honor Frederick Douglass for the bicentennial anniversary of his birth. The original sponsors and cosponsors of this legislation, Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01), Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At large), Senator Ben Cardin (MD), and Senator Chris Van Hollen issued the following statements praising the enactment of this law:

“I commend my colleagues in Congress for their bipartisan and bicameral efforts to pass this legislation, and I am grateful to President Trump for his attention to this important matter. As we approach the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’ birth, it is critical that Douglass’ contributions to our nation are recognized and celebrated. Frederick Douglass was the father of the abolitionist movement and left a lasting imprint on American culture,” said Congressman Harris. “Now that the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act is law, the commission can be formed to develop its recommendations.  I am eager to hear the commission’s recommendations, and participate in the activities honoring this American hero and Eastern Shore native.”

“Frederick Douglass was one of the most transformative figures in our nation’s history,” said Delegate Norton. “It is only fitting that the federal government and the nation celebrate and honor his life on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Commemorative commissions for individuals are understandably rare, but there is perhaps none more deserving than Douglass. We in the District of Columbia are particularly proud he called D.C. home for most of his adult life. His home here in Southeast is an official national historic site and one of our city’s treasures, visited by thousands of tourists and residents annually. I am grateful that the House and Senate passed the bill with unanimous bipartisan support and that the President signed it in time for the commission to do its important work.”

“Now more than ever, it’s important that we remember the work and passion of Frederick Douglass,” said Senator Van Hollen. “He fought tirelessly to improve our great nation and create a more perfect union.  His impact on Maryland can be seen across our state and still has lasting impacts on our communities. This commission will explore how we can learn from his legacy and continue to apply these lessons today. As Douglass once stated, ‘The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.’ We should never stop fighting to move our country forward.”

“Frederick Douglass, who was born in 1818 in the State of Maryland, escaped from slavery and became a leading writer, orator, publisher, and one of the United States’ most influential advocates for abolitionism and the equality of all people,” said Senator Cardin. “Honoring Douglass on his bicentennial allows the nation to look back at the incredible life and work of this great man. It also gives us a unique lens to view our world and nation today and the continuing fight for civil rights and equality.”