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Frederick Douglass spoke in Ypsilanti 150 years ago and his message still resonates on MLK Day

Jan 16, 2017

There is extra special importance to this Martin Luther King Day in Ypsilanti.

Remarkably, it was 150 years ago on this day that abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass spoke in Ypsilanti – one of three visits Douglass made to the town.

Today, Ypsilanti High School students are marking both MLK Day and the Douglass visit with a silent march to the site of that speech that happened in 1867. In commemoration, they’re also opening an art exhibit.

Lynne Settles, an art teacher at Ypsilanti High School, and Christy Witkowski, a senior at the school, joined Stateside today to discuss the motivations behind the march and art exhibit.

Settles said Douglass had “so much to say” in his speech, entitled The Perils to The Republic. (The same speech was also delivered in St. Louis, Missouri.)

“One of the things that we found that was really important is there was a paragraph in the speech that rings important in the same for today,” she said. “The struggles of equality, the struggles of free speech – some of the political turmoil that we’re going through right now were some of the things they were struggling with then.”

To hear the full conversation, listen above.

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