On April 30, 1842, Douglass spoke in Grafton, Massachusetts, outside of Worcester. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. The short 2019 book tour (such as it is) continued by taking me there with a stop at the Grafton Community Barn to participate in “Rising Towards Unity … when not all voices were equal," a series of events presented by the Grafton Historical Society, Grafton Public Library, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton and Upton.
The venue had a bit of the air of a space in which Douglass or another nineteenth century speaker might have appeared, big, open, wooden floors, but bright and modern, too. I, alas, have not the lung or vocal capacity of those days, and the microphone was on the fritz, so there is a moment of adjustment to move me closer to the audience at the beginning of the video and then request from the back that I speak up from time to time. Everyone was so polite and engaged, despite my tendency to go off-script and over time, and they asked great questions, as well, and the president graciously waited to reopen the building when I left my phone charger behind.
Oh, and get this: Abby Kelley Foster sat in the front row! Not actually her, but Lynne McKenney Lydick, who portrays her, as well as Clara Barton, two local heroes of nearby Worcester. A young woman also showed up in the Bloomer costume that she uses for teaching children at the library. I usually try to dress in a way to evoke a historical period, so having the audience do the same makes me feel like my people have arrived.
The next event in their series will be "Reading Frederick Douglass Together: The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro," to be held at the Grafton Common on July 5, 2019. If you are around, stop by.
By the way, note that my video editing skills have now improved with the inclusion of a title and conclusion cards and with a thumbnail different from the video. Everyday's a school day, right?
[The bracelet that I flash at the beginning reads "Claire Strong" in honor of my little niece and her struggle with leukemia. Our family likes to send pictures of it when we are at different places. Thus, it did not end up on the cutting room floor.]