The Frederick Douglass 200

This year is Frederick Douglass’s Bicentennial celebration. After escaping slavery at the age of 20, Douglass went on to become one of America’s most celebrated abolitionists – tirelessly campaigning against slavery. Beyond his abolitionist work, Douglass was also a politician, writer, feminist, educator, entrepreneur and diplomat.

The Frederick Douglass 200 is a project to honor the impact of 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of Douglass across those areas where he had such an impact – abolitionist, politician, writer, feminist, educator, entrepreneur and diplomat.

The FD200 has been curated and compiled by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC, and the Guardian is pleased to partner with them to publish this list. Each week, between now and November, we will publish a list of 10 new people who have joined the FD200. All awardees will be honored at the Library of Congress in Washington DC on Douglass’s next birthday, February 14, 2019.

– Kenneth Morris, great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass

The Abolitionists

Those organizing and speaking out against injustice, often times at risk of their careers or even their own lives. The risk of Douglass being re-enslaved did not stop him from becoming America’s most influential Black male abolitionist.

  • William Barber

    National Poor People’s Campaign, co-chair

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    Rev. Barber is the co-chair of the National Poor People’s Campaign, a political movement centered on combating poverty, racism, the economy of war and environmental degradation. He also sits on the National Board for the NAACP.

  • Patrisse Cullors

    Black Lives Matter, co-founder

    Patrisse is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, and has worked to address issues of police brutality and mass incarceration. She is the Executive Director of the Coalition to End Sherrif Violence in Jails and the co-founder of Dignity and Power Now.

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The Diplomats

Those thriving in delicate and divisive situations, often inspiring those most depleted of inspiration. For decades, Douglass served as the unofficial diplomat of Black America toward White America. He also served officially as a diplomat as the US minister resident to Haiti from 1889 to 1891.

  • George and Amal Clooney

    Clooney Foundation for Justice, co-founder

    George and Amal Clooney’s Clooney Foundation for Justice is committed primarily to the resettlement and education of Syrian refugees. The Clooneys have also launched the Trial Watch Project as part of their foundation to monitor and respond to human rights trials around the world.

The Educators

Those committed to teaching away bigotry and interpreting ideas critical to human growth through books and film, lectures and laughter, in formal and informal classrooms. Douglass was an early advocate of school desegregation and never stopped thinking of ways to expand education for African Americans.

  • Phil Yu

    Angry Asian Man, editor and founder

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    Phil Yu is the editor and founder of the popular blog “Angry Asian Man,” and has received numerous awards including the 2012 Salute to Champions Award from the Japanese American Citizens League, the 2011 Public Image Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the 2016 Voice Award from the Asian American Journalists Association.

  • Adrienne Keene

    Scholar and founder of Native Appropriations blog

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    A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Adrienne Keene is a scholar of American and Native American studies. She is the founder of the blog, Native Appropriations, which highlights contemporary issues of native peoples including cultural appropriation, media representation of indigenous protest, Native American mascots, and access to higher education for Native students.

The Entrepreneurs

Those providing opportunities where none may have otherwise been found, using their enterprises or wealth from their enterprises to advance a social good. Douglass advanced abolitionism as a publisher in the newspaper business in the years before the Civil War.

  • Grace Bonney

    Author of The Company of Women

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    Grace Booney is the author of ‘In The Company of Women’ which features the stories of more than 100 creative women embracing entrepreneurship and overcoming adversity. She is also the founder of Design*Sponge, a design blog dedicated to inclusive and intersectional conversations about design, homes and cultural issues.

The Writers

Those who grab us, who mobilize us through screenplays and novels, lyrics and essays, journalism and poetry, editing and scholarship. Douglass is most known as a moving orator. But his writings in newspapers and books and others were no less moving, no less influential.

  • Juan Felipe Herrera

    US poet laureate and novelist

    A renowned poet and novelist, Juan Felipe Herrera’s writing is heavily influenced by his upbringing as the son of migrant farmers and centers around the experiences of migrant and indigenous people. Herrera was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2015.

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  • Helen Zia


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    As an award winning journalist, Helen Zia has covered issues related to the Asian American experience, American political movements, and LGBTQ rights. Throughout her career she has covered a wide range of issues related to civil rights, the Vietnam War, white supremacy, women’s rights, homophobia, and hate crimes.

The Feminists

Those leading movements to demand equality and empowerment for women. In 1848, Douglass attended the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and emerged as one of the most outspoken male supporters of women’s suffrage in the 19th century.

  • Monica Ramirez

    Justice for Migrant Women, founder

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    She is the founder of Justice for Migrant Women and was recognized at the 2018 Golden Globes as part of the #TimesUp movement for her commitment to the eradication of gender-based violence focusing specifically on the exploitation of immigrant and latina laborers.

The Politicians

Those using their platform like few others to help bend justice and opportunity toward those who have been denied it. In 1872, Douglass served as presidential elector at large for the State of New York. He also moved that year to Washington, DC, and became a powerful figure in local and federal politics.

  • IIhan Omar

    Policy and Initiatives at Women Organizing Women Network, director

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    Once a child living in a Kenyan refugee camp, Ilhan Omar became the first ever Somali-American elected to a United States political office and is currently running for the House of Representatives. In 2015, Omar became the Director of Policy and Initiatives at Women Organizing Women Network, a campaign which advocates for women from East Africa to take on political and civic leadership. She has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform, economic justice for the working class and rights of the Palestinian people.

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