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The unveiling of the statue of Frederick Douglass and the ceremony that surrounded the opening of Abolition Row Park was years in the making, but it finally became a reality on a perfect Friday in June.

New Bedford Historical Society President Lee Blake and elected officials celebrated their accomplishments at a ribbon cutting that debuted the transformation of a “blighted plot into a testament of the city’s amazing abolition history.”

“The Underground Railroad was perhaps the most dramatic protest against enslavement in U.S. history,” Blake said in her remarks.

“Abolition Row Park will exalt in the city’s leading role in the anti-slavery movement,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “Its central feature is a long-overdue statue of Frederick Douglass, who would become America’s conscience on the issue of slavery in the antebellum era. That Douglass sought refuge in New Bedford is a testament to the values on which the city was founded, and his statue will serve as an enduring source of pride and inspiration for city residents and visitors alike.”


Among those flocking to the newly unveiled statue of Frederick Douglass is sculpter Richard Blake, with his hand on Douglass’ hand, and New Bedford’s first poet laureate, Everett Hoagland. Credit: Jonathan LeBlanc-Unger

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