Yesterday night, a new resident moved into the Maryland Governor’s Mansion. Frederick Douglass, the 19th century abolitionist, writer, and statesman, is the first African-American to reside in the mansion, at least in official painting form. And it’s about time.
Douglass was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland; according to his autobiography, “The opinion was … whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion I know nothing…My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant… It [was] common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age…I do not recollect ever seeing my mother by the light of day. … She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone.” When he was 20, Douglass managed to escape Maryland for freedom in Philadelphia. The rest is history–really fascinating history, in fact.
The painting was commissioned (and paid for) by Brown Capital Management, one of the nation’s oldest African American-owned investment management firms. According to the AP, Douglass’s portrait will be hanging across from an image of Queen Henrietta Maria of England, for whom the state is named. I imagine they’ll have quite a bit to say to one another.
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