The Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program is a 4-week study abroad experience designed to help future changemakers enhance their leadership and intercultural communication skills then return home inspired and better prepared to agitate for positive change in our world. The hope is that the Fellows will, in the words of Vice President Kamala Harris when she met the Fellows in March, “come as they are, and leave as they aspire to be.”
The 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow cohort was cosponsored by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs to honor the 175th anniversary of the meeting in Dublin between 27-year-old abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the Irish reformer Daniel O’Connell. The 2021 Fellows followed in Douglass’s historic footsteps, visiting sites across Ireland that Douglass visited in 1845.
The Frederick Douglas Global Fellows spent their first five days in restricted-movement quarantine, which meant that orientation and course meetings took place online, but the group was able to participate in daily outdoor activities, including a walking tour of Dublin City Centre, featuring such historic sites as College Green, St. Stephen's Green, O'Connell Street, and the Wellington Monument.
During the program, the Fellows learned to navigate around Dublin and they explored Irish culture and history through, among other activities, visits to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and the Museum of Literature Ireland.
During their second week in Ireland , the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows boarded a coach to travel to Cork, one of the cities Douglass visited in 1845. The highlight of the visit was a guided walking tour of Douglass sites. Joining the group was the American artist and activist Paul Oakley Stovall, who portrayed George Washington in the U.S. national tour of Hamilton and is currently in Ireland developing a film on Douglass' life. Two of the Fellows were featured in an Irish National Radio, RTE1, story on the walking tour.
Belfast and Derry
During their three-day study tour to Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows visited socially relevant sites and explored themes of peace building, policing, and political leadership.
While in Belfast, the Fellows had the opportunity to visit both sides of the Peace Wall. The wall was erected to quell Northern Irish conflict and is now primarily a repository for art and messages. The Fellows were able to see the differences between the communities, while reflecting on current issues facing Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the United States.
Guest Speakers, Mentors, and Celebrations
The 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows were honored to spend time during their final week in Ireland with Mrs. Nettie Washington Douglass, great-great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass. Read more about her visit to Dublin and her connection to the Fellows in this story by the Irish Times.
Fellows were also joined for a week by Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., a direct descendent of Frederick Douglass and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, a non-profit focused on anti-slavery and antiracism. He travelled from his home in the United States to spend time with the Fellows, enriching their experience by sharing his perspective on his family's legacy, as well as his work promoting racial equity and fighting to end human exploitation.
Other special guests who shared their expertise and perspective with the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows include:
- Irish author and activist Don Mullan, an eyewitness and chronicler of the Bloody Sunday events in Derry in 1972;
- Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College and powerful advocate for study abroad; and
- Dr. Christine Kinealy, a historian who joined the Fellows for the launch of the Frederick Douglass Dublin Trail, a walking tour created by Dr. Kinealy featuring many of the places that Frederick Douglass famously visited in 1845.
During their time in Ireland, the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows experienced exceptional hospitality that meaningfully contributed to their positive impressions of Ireland, including a celebration in their honor at the U.S. Consulate in Belfast, and a closing event hosted by the U.S. Charge d'Affaires at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Phoenix Park.
The Fellows even had the opportunity to engage with Ireland's Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who spoke to the Fellows about the value of bold leadership and social justice, then chatted casually with them on the steps of Ireland's Government Buildings. The Taoiseach tweeted about the event, referencing his March 17 virtual meeting with the Fellows and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Passing the Baton
At the closing event for the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program, the Fellows each received a commemorative relay baton and were reminded of what Vice President Kamala Harris had asked them during a virtual meeting in March. “Frederick Douglass passed you a baton," she said during that online event. "During your part of the race, what will you do with it?"
We at CIEE are certain that each of the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows will do something meaningful with their part of the race; they will each change the world for the better.