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Antiracist center at American University to establish the Frederick Douglass 200 awards Program will honor people who work for equality and justice

Valentine’s Day marks the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, and to show the famed abolitionist and statesman some love, the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University announced today a partnership with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives for “The FD200.” The effort will recognize one person for each year since Douglass’ birth who labors in the Douglass tradition for equality and justice.

“We cannot think of a better way to honor one of humanity’s greatest ancestors, one of America’s greatest ancestors, one of African-America’s greatest ancestors than by honoring 200 people whose modern-day work best reflects the living and loving legacy of Frederick Douglass,” said Ibram Kendi, founding director of the center, which launched last fall.

Kendi recounted Douglass’ work as an abolitionist, writer, entrepreneur, feminist, politician, educator and diplomat, and said the 200 honorees will fall into those seven categories.

Nominees will be solicited starting in March and will be honored, two a day, beginning on Juneteenth and culminating with an October gala and awards ceremony.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiative, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent human trafficking, is pursuing a separate effort to distribute a million hardcover copies of the bicentennial edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave to schoolchildren.

Nettie Washington Douglass, a great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, was on hand at American University to sign books. She believes her famed great-great grandfather has a hand in moving his legacy into modern times.

“In my heart, I do believe we’re being directed by Frederick Douglass,” she said. She keeps a replica of the Douglass statue that sits in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on her nightstand. “I have a very spiritual connection with Frederick Douglass, I can’t explain it any other way. And when I ask a question, the answers will come to me.”

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