IUPUI to host symposium centered on Frederick Douglass

As a child, I loved what was referred to as “Scholastic Book Day” at my school. We were ushered into the cafeteria, where the lunch tables were piled high with books, and allowed to choose a few to take home.

Frederick Douglass

One book selected during such a visit still graces my bookshelf today: “Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom.” It detailed the life of the runaway slave turned abolitionist in antebellum America who subsequently became one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods — and opened my young eyes to the effect one person can have on the lives of many.

Douglass’ life and work will be honored next month, when The Frederick Douglass Papers at IUPUI hosts “Rediscovering the ‘Life and Times of Frederick Douglass’: A Public Symposium” Oct. 4 and 5 at the IUPUI Campus Center.

One of five editorial projects in the Institute for American Thought in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the Douglass Papers is hosting the symposium in celebration of its publication of the first scholarly edition of “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.”

The third and final autobiography written by Douglass, the book is considered his most complete account of his life-long struggle on behalf of causes such as abolition, civil rights, women’s rights, public education and temperance. The new edition is the “first time the book’s text has been freed of intrusive copy editing by 19th century copy editors and restored to the powerful, uncompromising language that Douglass intended,” according to Douglass Papers director and the Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of History John R. Kaufman-McKivigan.

The symposium will also bring one of the nation’s leading scholars of 19th century race relations and politics to campus.

David W. Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, will speak at 6 p.m., Oct. 4 in Room 450 of the IUPUI Campus Center. Blight is the author of the prize-winning “Frederick Douglass’ Civil War” and a forthcoming new biography of Douglass.

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