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Belfast gears up for international event series

Date: 16 Apr 2024

Category: Things to do

Frederick Douglass statue

Belfast will take centre stage this week as it hosts an international event series and welcomes visitors from the United States.

#DouglassWeek, which kicked off on Sunday, celebrates the life of American abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass and the special connection that he had with Belfast.

Douglass spent time in the city in the 1840s as part of a speaking and book tour of Ireland denouncing slavery and raising funds for abolitionist causes. He famously said that he “will always have a home in Belfast”.

Last year a statue of Douglass was unveiled in Rosemary Street near to where he addressed crowds during his visits. 

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Ryan Murphy said:  “Belfast City Council acknowledged Frederick Douglass’s importance to Belfast last year when we unveiled a statue of him in the city centre. I am therefore delighted that his legacy continues to be celebrated through this international event series which will see descendants of Douglass and other visitors from the United States welcomed to our city.

“#DouglassWeek is part of our Belfast 2024 programme - the city’s biggest ever celebration of our creative and cultural sector. It will see almost 200 events, workshops and activities take place throughout the city between March and December this year. I would therefore encourage people to check out the Douglass-themed events and the wider Belfast 2024 programme and be part of this special celebration of culture.” 

Event series founder and president of The Globe Lane Initiative, Dr. Caroline Dunham-Schroeter said:  “We are delighted to host this year’s #DouglassWeek in Belfast and celebrate the strong connection between Douglass and the city. We look forward to a week of great connections, discussions, art and music celebrating not only Frederick Douglass but also the contributions of people, communities and organisations in Northern Ireland and around the world championing the ideas of freedom, equality and justice.”

Bringing together artists, musicians, poets, community groups and activists, #DouglassWeek promises to showcase the best of Belfast, its history, culture and people. 

Other notable events include:  

  • Guided walking tour with Anti-Slavery Belfast on Tuesday 16 April, tracing Douglass and his visits to Belfast, highlighting how its citizens became integral to the abolitionist movement
  • Douglass Dialogues” Conversation between renowned author Jan Carson and poet and playwright Nandipha Jola on Tuesday 16 April at the Ulster Museum 
  • “Douglass Dialogues” Conversation with Douglass descendant Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. reflecting on family history and personal stories with Douglass family biographer and historian Professor Marie-Celeste Bernier on Wednesday 17 April at Linen Hall Library
  • Harmonies of Freedom: Honouring Frederick Douglass in Belfast” #DouglassWeek Music & Performance Evening on Saturday 20 April at the Duncairn Centre

#DouglassWeek 2024 builds on the success of the event previously held in Cork, Washington DC and New York. It is due to take place in Boston in 2025.


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