(CHICAGO- May 31, 2018) – “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” is a quote from activist Frederick Douglass who was one of the greatest public speakers in American history, so it’s only fitting that the new exhibit in his honor at the American Writers Museum (AWM) is entitled Frederick Douglass AGITATOR.  Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery to become one of the most eloquent voices of abolitionism and his words remain a touchstone for anyone fighting inequality or pushing America to fulfill its promise of ensuring equality for all.  

Opening in the Roberta Rubin Writer’s Room June 22, 2018 – December 31, 2018, this exhibit sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company (Lead Sponsor), Wintrust (Partner Sponsor), and several generous individuals, coincides with Douglass’ bicentennial year and includes related education and public programs. On Thursday, August 2 at 6:30pm, University of Connecticut Department of History Chair Manisha Sinha presents her book, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, winner of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Kenneth B. Morris, a descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, and founder of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives discusses Douglass’ influence in the past, present and future on Wednesday, August 8 at 6:30pm. A Young Chicago Authors public workshop and performance, led by Tim Toaster Henderson, is scheduled for Thursday, September 20 at 6:30pm.

Frederick Douglass was passionate about the written word. In his first memoir, he called learning to read his “pathway from slavery to freedom.” Denied access to words during the first part of his life, he spent the rest of his life crafting them. Over the course of his long life, he wrote three memoirs, one novella, and thousands of essays and speeches (not to mention countless letters and poems). Frederick Douglass AGITATOR highlights excerpts from his speeches and writings, some recorded by students from Young Chicago Authors. Other excerpts include Douglass’ speech on Haiti at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and The Reason Why pamphlet he and Ida B. Wells distributed to protest African-American exclusion from the fair.

AWM President Carey Cranston recommends everyone read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave “because it illustrates the greatest heights and the lowest depths of our history and potential, while, better than any other work, showing the power of literacy—that when a person can read and write they gain the potential to create their own narrative, and to shape their lives and the world around them.”

Douglass was an early adopter of photography. He immediately recognized its potential to present an image of black people different from that of the slave. Between 1841 and his death in 1895, Douglass sat for dozens of portraits, becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century. A large photo mosaic of Frederick Douglass made out of dozens of his portraits welcomes visitors to the exhibit.

Artifacts in the exhibit include Frederick Douglass’ inkwell and glasses, on loan from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, an AWM Author Home Affiliate.

Museum admission includes special exhibits and programs. For tickets and more information, please visit americanwritersmuseum.org.


About American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum is the first museum of its kind in the United States. The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, and our daily lives. The museum is located at 180 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601, and offers something for every age group including permanent exhibits and special galleries highlighting America’s favorite works and the authors behind them. Tickets to the museum are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and free for children ages 12 and under. Museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM, Thursdays 10 AM- 6 PM. For more information visit www.americanwritersmuseum.org or call 312-374-8790.

American Writers Museum
Contact: Karie McGahan