Mr. Chuck Hicks, “Mr. Black History” and DC Host Committee Co-Chair, the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Pre-Celebration and launch of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee, along with panelists, from right to left: Dr. AJ Aiseirith, Chair, Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee; Ms. Julie Kutruff, Community Outreach & Partnership Coordinator, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, National Park Service; Mr. Norvelle Jackson, President, Friends of Frederick Douglass; Ms. Beth Akiyama, Executive Director, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, and moderator of the event, seated on the front right.
The Church of Scientology National Affairs Office held a Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Pre-Celebration, launching the newly formed D.C. Host Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee.
To be helmed by Dr. Aiseirithe, Director of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community, this committee will connect and coordinate District of Columbia events relating to the Frederick Douglass bicentennial throughout 2018 in order to engage local residents and visitors in a celebration of the historical accomplishments of the most quoted and photographed historical figure of the 19th century.
Ms. Beth Akiyama, Executive Director of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office and moderator of the event, set the tone with a call for unity on civil and human rights. “We are very excited to launch the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee to commemorate one of America’s brightest human rights icons and indomitable spirits. It is our responsibility to carry on Douglass’ fight, and stand together and unite for human rights,” Beth Akiyama stated.
The event featured panelists: Mr. Chuck Hicks, Dr. AJ Aiseirith, Ms. Julie Kutruff and Mr. Norvelle Jackson, each community leaders striving for cultural education.
Dr. AJ Aiseirith, Director of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community, shared her excitement about the formation of the new DC Host Frederick Douglass Committee and its parent organization, the DC Host Committee. The DC Host Committee was formed by the African American Civil War Museum to welcome thousands of visitors coming to Washington DC for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture last year. Dr. Aiseirith spoke of envisioning such an central focal point for DC wide cultural activities and events for the 2018 Frederick Douglass Bicentennial.
Julie Kutruff, Community Outreach & Partnership Coordinator of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, spoke about the Frederick Douglass house in Anacostia, its expanding outreach into the community and lesser known aspects of Frederick Douglass’s life. She encouraged other individuals and groups to take advantage of the house as a historical and community resource and invited collaboration.
Having founded and worked on many hosting committees in the District of Columbia, “Mr. Black History” and DC Host Committee Co-Chair, Mr. Chuck Hicks, reiterated the importance of coming together to promote understanding of the many cultures here in DC. With the help of both the DC Host and the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committees, Mr. Hicks looks forward to bringing more and more groups here in Washington and nationally, together in exchange, coordination and collaboration, bringing the District to a new level of historic and cultural engagement and offerings.
The President of Friends of Frederick Douglass, Norvelle Jackson, made a similar point: cooperation is key in educating younger people on our culture. Pursuing his own passion for reaching a continually broadening audience, both nationally and locally, Jackson is looking at using social media platforms to reach and educate a younger audience on Douglass and his accomplishments.