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UMD Announces Plans to Construct Frederick Douglass Square on Campus, Honoring Maryland's Native Son

April 9, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Led by the "North Stars,” Campus Leaders Celebrate Douglass Beliefs with Prominent Memorial

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Arguably considered one of the most important individuals to ever trod Maryland soil, Frederick Douglass will soon be commemorated on the University of Maryland’s campus, according to a group of advocates who have sought for years to establish Frederick Douglass Square. 

For more than five years, a group of campus leaders called the North Stars spearheaded by Professor Ira Berlin has been working to secure funding and approve architectural and landscape designs for a memorial in honor of Douglass. The Square will feature powerful Douglass quotations displayed on a corten steel wall, paving stone, planting beds, accent lighting and benches centered on UMD’s Hornbake Plaza, a prominent campus location and hub of student activity. 

“After many years of hard work, we are proud to bring Frederick Douglass Square to the University of Maryland campus,” said UMD Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “Above all, Douglass advocated for equality, justice and fairness throughout the state of Maryland and the world, and it is fitting to honor him at our flagship institution.” 

In many ways, the work of Frederick Douglass is intertwined into the research and curriculum of UMD, from archeological digs on the plantation where he lived as a child, to scholars who specialize in his writings.  

The announcement of the Square was made at “Slavery, Freedom, and the Remaking of American History: A Conference in Honor of Ira Berlin,” where academics gathered from across the country to celebrate the work Professor Berlin has pioneered at Maryland. 

“Nothing could be more appropriate than representing Frederick Douglass and his words at the University of Maryland,” said Ira Berlin, distinguished university professor and internationally recognized expert on slavery. “No man or woman has better stood for the ideals upon which the University was founded and the principles in which the people of Maryland believe. Douglass stood for fairness, justice, racial, gender, sexual, and religious equity.  That is why I have – along with the esteemed group of North Stars –pursued Frederick Douglass Square for many, many years.”

The groundbreaking for the Square is expected to occur late summer. The renderings were created by Floura Teeter Landscape Architects working with Wallace Montgomery & Associates.

Anyone interested in learning more or giving to this effort may visit http://ter.ps/fds