Frederick Douglass Statue

Hillsdale College Unveils Statue of Frederick Douglass

Famed abolitionist becomes eighth figure on College’s Liberty Walk

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HILLSDALE, Mich. – More than 150 years after Frederick Douglass delivered the address “Popular Error and Unpopular Truth” at Hillsdale College, the famed abolitionist has become a permanent figure on campus. On May 12, the College unveiled its latest bronze statue, a 7-foot-8-inch likeness of Frederick Douglass, in front of a crowd of more than 300 people.

The Douglass statue is the eighth to be included in Hillsdale’s Liberty Walk. It stands opposite the College’s statue of Abraham Lincoln and joins the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from the Founding Era, and Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Winston Churchill from more recent history. Designed and created by San Francisco sculptor Bruce Wolfe, the statue depicts Douglass as a scholar carrying a book under his arm.

Hillsdale trustee Gunnar Klarr opened the unveiling ceremonies. His words were followed by a brief prayer from Chaplain Adam Rick. The statue was then unveiled by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn and sculptor Bruce Wolfe, as well as James Nagy, to whose wife’s memory the statue is dedicated.

After the unveiling, Dr. Lucas Morel, professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, addressed the crowd.  He spoke on the impact of Douglass’ life and thought, highlighting the abolitionist’s extraordinary loyalty to his country. According to Dr. Morel, although Douglass could have easily rejected America after being born into slavery, he chose instead to dedicate his life to the nation by advocating for freedom and justice. Morel also discussed Douglass’ dedication to the study of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bible.

Following Morel’s remarks, Dr. Arnn explained the importance of the statue and its place on the Liberty Walk.

“Douglass looks with resolve at the soldier who paid the price. Lincoln looks at the soldier with solemnity, almost sadness, because, of course, he was the man that gave the command that led to the last full measure of devotion,” said Arnn. “Frederick Douglass came here to remind us what a college is. It’s not just a proclamation of the evil of slavery. It’s a proclamation on the nature of man—of all of us, of what we can do, of what we’re made for.”

Photos of the dedication are available here.

About Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College, founded in 1844, has built a national reputation through its classical liberal arts core curriculum and its principled refusal to accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies, even indirectly in the form of student grants or loans. It also conducts an educational outreach effort promoting civil and religious liberty, including a free monthly speech digest, Imprimis, with a circulation of more than 3.4 million.

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