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Statue of anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass unveiled in Belfast

Date: 31 Jul 2023

Anna Slevin from DfC, sculptor Hector Guest, Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy and sculptor Alan Beattie Herriot at the unveiling of a statue of Frederick Douglass

A striking bronze statue of author, anti-slavery campaigner and early champion of women’s rights Frederick Douglass has been unveiled in Belfast city centre.

Douglass was a former slave who became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in America. He first visited Belfast in 1845 at the invitation of the Belfast Anti-Slavery Society and returned for a second visit in 1846.

The life-size statue was created by renowned Scottish figurative sculptors Alan Beattie Herriot and Hector Guest. It is located beside the historic First Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street where Douglass delivered lectures during his time in Belfast.

The project is funded by Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “Frederick Douglass was an inspirational leader best known for his anti-slavery writings and campaigning, but he was also an early champion of women’s rights and many of his values and beliefs are as relevant today as they were in the nineteenth century.

“I’m honoured to be involved in the unveiling of a statue recognising his impact. This will help people’s understanding of the positive, progressive role he played in the city’s early development. It is also very fitting that it is located in Rosemary Street close to where he delivered some of his inspirational speeches.”

Anna Slevin from the Department for Communities said: “The Department remains committed to the development of villages, towns and cities across Northern Ireland through initiatives which promote urban renewal and develop public spaces.

“This landmark statue of Frederick Douglass is commendable for many reasons. It ties together the past, present and future of Belfast, while recognising the role this city played in global events as it served as a platform for historical figures. Alongside its historical significance, this statue is very much a creative endeavour which enhances this part of Belfast by adding an artistic flourish to the streetscape.

“I am pleased to acknowledge the Department for Community’s contribution and commend the efforts of all those involved in making this statue a reality.”

Artist Alan Beattie Herriot said: “I was delighted to be commissioned to produce this memorial to Frederick Douglass; a man whose extraordinary oratory abilities allowed him to champion the fight to abolish slavery.”

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