On February 6, 2022, the Salem Athenaeum will host a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July.” Douglass first gave this speech, perhaps his most famous, in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852. As an acclaimed abolitionist orator and agent for The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass gave speeches across the North and Midwest United States, including in Salem.
While public readings of this speech are often conducted on or around the Fourth of July, we are intentionally choosing a date during Black History Month to honor Douglass’ message and encourage community discussions about why it remains relevant 170 years later.
This event will be held at the Tabernacle Congregational Church at 50 Washington St. in Salem at 3:00 pm. The reading will be followed by a reception where we encourage the audience and readers to continue the conversation. This program is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities, which provided funding through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).