Annual Frederick Douglass speech to take place virtually

Abigail McGrath, founder of Renaissance House Retreat for Writers and Artists, welcomes everyone to the 2018 reading of the Frederick Douglass historic speech. This year the annual event will be done virtually.

The Vineyard’s annual reading of Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” will continue this year, but in a new virtual way.

The Renaissance House, a retreat for writers of color and writers focusing on social justice, has shared the famous speech at the Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs for the past 20 years. This year, participants will be asked to record themselves at home reading a segment of Douglass’ speech. Renaissance House will then take the videos and knit them together and air the final cut on MVTV, Youtube, and other outlets.

Douglass gave his speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, New York. 

“He gave the speech knowing that he risked arrest and possible death. It is a speech which is seldom part of mainstream curriculum. It is a speech which becomes more and more relevant every day. It is a speech which everyone should hear. Now, everyone who wants to, can participate,” Abigail McGrath, founder of the Renaissance House, said in a release about the event. “Although the history of slavery in America is unique and clearly the residual effects still bind us, there are still elements of other kinds of slavery which abound and today’s pandemic points it out to us dramatically each day.”

Those interested in participating should email


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