Frederick Douglass and Beyond
Community conversations about race and racism.
Frederick Douglass and Beyond
Please note: Vermont Humanities is currently focusing on contemporary issues of race and racism in the United States. Read our statement on the death of George Floyd and browse our growing list of opportunities to help.
While Frederick Douglass and his writings remain an important part of the history of race and racism in the United States, we will no longer be sponsoring stand-alone “Reading Frederick Douglass” programs as we have done over the last five years. Community feedback demonstrates that Vermonters are ready to go deeper and want to engage in change-making conversations about the impact of racism on Black communities and communities of color, both in Vermont and across the United States.
While reading Frederick Douglass’ work is a powerful experience for many, it can only be one piece of the long overdue conversations that our communities need to have. We hope that we can be a positive contributor to the conversation. Please visit our digital programs page to see the latest programming or browse the list below of recent virtual programs addressing these themes.
We thank you for your engagement.
In response to the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor from Middlebury College created a musical composition. This video features selections from that recording as Dr. Taylor discusses his journey towards using music as an avenue for advocacy and activism.
Video: Rajnii Eddins shares his poetry and discusses how our stories can be used to confront racism and other injustices, affirm diversity and equity, and initiate community dialogue.
Video: Join Jarvis Green, producing artistic director at JAG Productions, as he leads a discussion with poet Major Jackson, choreographer Felicia Swoope, and writer Desmond Peeples about being Black culture bearers in Vermont during this time of protest and pandemic.
Video: a conversation on the condition of Black theatre during a time of death, betrayal, and global pandemic. Jarvis Green, producing artistic director at JAG Productions, leads a discussion with award-winning playwrights Keelay Gipson and Stacey Rose.
Video: Drawing from his documentary film “Man on Fire,” Middlebury professor James Sanchez discusses the rhetoric of white supremacy and suggests ways communities might address bigotry.
Video: Yale historian David Blight, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History for his biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” tells Douglass’s story: an escaped slave who became one of the leading abolitionists, orators, and writers of his era.
Many Vermonters know Reuben Jackson as the host of Vermont Public Radio’s Friday Night Jazz. In this episode, Jackson shares some evocative Duke Ellington recordings, and discusses Ellington’s love for trains. He also describes the Ellington orchestra’s work in the segregated United States.
In the early 20th century, black southerners fled racial violence and sharecropping for steady work in northern cities like New York and Chicago. But these migrants still faced challenges once they arrived. In this talk, Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield explores the Great Migration and its great influence on American history.
It’s well-known that Vermont is one of the whitest states in the Union. And so the stories of African American Vermonters can sometimes get forgotten, no matter how important they have been to our state’s and our nation’s history.
Many different groups of people, from many different continents, have helped build our state. But from the 19th century through 2019, the stories of immigrants have largely been excluded from the popular image of Vermont.