Frederick Douglass Arrives for His Bicentennial

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Douglass Family Announces He Will Lead One Million Youth Initiative to Tackle Issues of Race, Equality and Restorative Justice

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We want to print and give away one million hardcover copies.

The Frederick Douglass family reports that their famous ancestor will lead a literacy and social action initiative, using the words from his most popular book. “We’re publishing the Bicentennial Edition of the classic, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,” said Nettie Washington Douglass. “Over the next year, we want to print and give away one million hardcover copies to young people across the country, leading up to the 2018 bicentennial.” Ms. Douglass is the chairwoman of the Atlanta-based public charity, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI). She is also the great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington and the great-great-granddaughter of the nineteenth-century author, statesman, women’s- and human-rights advocate, Frederick Douglass.

FDFI will officially introduce the Bicentennial Edition of the Narrative and their One Million Abolitionists project at the Library of Congress on February 28. Published in 1845, the Narrative was Douglass’s first and most popular autobiography. The Library of Congress lists it as one of the 88 “Books That Shaped America.” The book contradicted the racist mythology promoted by the business of slavery and helped turn the tide toward emancipation. Ms. Douglass believes, “Those words still have the power to inspire young people to insist upon rights guaranteed to them in America’s founding documents.”

FDFI is inviting government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, faith institutions and individuals to partner in the project that is aimed at uplifting and unifying communities across the country. After printing the first 5,000 books, which have already been committed, FDFI will endeavor to raise funds for the next 5,000 or 10,000 until one million young people in schools, clubs and detention centers own a copy of the Narrative. Once they read the book, the Douglass family is asking recipients to collaborate with classmates and teachers to create service projects addressing urgent social concerns. Partners include the National Basketball Retired Players Association; the Great Books Foundation; the National Youth Leadership Council; City Hearts: Kids Say Yes to the Arts; the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), and the Little Free Library.

Bryan Stevenson, best-selling author and founder of Equal Justice Initiative, contributed the Introduction to the Bicentennial Edition and concluded by saying, “We’re living at a time when we need [as Douglass put it] ‘the glorious light of truth,’ people who are willing to stand when others say ‘sit down.’ We need people committed to equality, who will speak when others say ‘be quiet.’ It can be difficult to know how to face some of these overwhelming challenges. Let the words and life of Frederick Douglass show you the way.”

The mission of FDFI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is to advance freedom through knowledge and strategic action. For more information about the One Million Abolitionists project, go to or contact us at: info(at)fdfi(dot)org and

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Robert Benz
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives
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