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Frederick Douglass Statue Dedicated in Harlem

By Ben Fractenberg | September 20, 2011 4:26pm

HARLEM — Community leaders and descendants of Frederick Douglass gathered at 110th Street Tuesday morning to dedicate a statue honoring the escaped slave and abolitionist leader.

The bronze statue — located at the northwest corner of Central Park — shows Douglass staring contemplatively toward Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

"This will serve as a powerful space," said East Harlem City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito during the ceremony. "The gateway to Harlem."

Douglass' great-great-great-grandson, Kenneth Morris Jr., traveled from Los Angeles to New York for the event.

"I feel proud, humbled," said Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, "that I could stand for such a great man."

The statue was erected more than 60 years after Eighth Avenue was named after the leader. Douglass escaped slavery in Maryland in 1838 and made it to New York, where he changed his name from Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey to Frederick Douglass.

A competition was held in 2003 for a proposal for the site. Harlem-based artist Algernon Miller and Hungarian-born sculptor Gabriel Koren won the contest with their memorial design.

Other speakers said they hoped Douglass' legacy would continue.

"My grandfather was a slave. This hits very close to home," said Harlem City Council Member Inez Dickens. "When you don't know what your history is, you don't know what your future is going to be."