Skip to main content

“I have come to tell you something about slavery”


“I have come to tell you something about slavery”

The Frederick Douglass Opening Programme: Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture

Free event. Booking is required.

  • Date: Wednesday 13 November 2019
  • Time: 18:00-19:30
  • Venue: Auditorium, Frederick Douglass Centre, Newcastle Helix

L to R: Norma Gregory
Hannah-Rose Murray
Alasdair Pettinger
Anita Rupprecht

Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture. From L to R: Norma Gregory, Hannah-Rose Murray, Alasdair Pettinger, Anita Rupprecht

To mark the opening of The Frederick Douglass Centre, eight of the country’s leading experts on Frederick Douglass will come together to:

  • discuss the historic links between slavery, Newcastle upon Tyne and the United Kingdom
  • consider the lessons for contemporary society

Hear about the effect of Frederick Douglass’s narratives and speeches in 19th century Britain and today. Find out about his engagement with other black people touring or resident in Britain at the time, like:

  • Jamaica-born Eliza Greenfield, married to a church minister in Arbroath
  • the former acquaintance from the Baltimore shipyards Douglass encountered in Liverpool

We’ll discuss the significance of commemorating Frederick Douglass today.

“Frederick Douglass was a sensation in the British Isles. Arriving in 1845, he travelled the length and breadth of the country, and spoke in large cities and small fishing villages along the coast.

“He mesmerised audiences from Dublin to Aberdeen. He created a solid network of abolitionist friends who organised meetings, published editions of his slave narrative and donated money to the antislavery cause.

“Douglass had a special relationship with Newcastle. He befriended the Richardson family, who he corresponded with for the rest of his life. In 1846, with Douglass' permission, the family raised money to buy his legal freedom from his slave owner in Maryland. This decision ruffled abolitionist feathers on both sides of the Atlantic. To some, it was a ‘compromising of principle’ and appeared to give sanction to the idea human beings were property.”

– Dr Hannah-Rose Murray

Following the lecture, guests are invited to enjoy a complimentary drink and canapés.


  • Dr Fionnghuala Sweeney (Newcastle University)
  • Professor Bridget Bennett (University of Leeds)
  • Norma Gregory (Author and Historian)
  • Dr Hannah-Rose Murray (University of Edinburgh)
  • Jade Montserrat (Visual Artist)
  • Alasdair Pettinger (Author)
  • Professor Alan Rice (University of Central Lancashire)
  • Dr Anita Rupprecht (University of Brighton)
This event will be preceded by a special performance of Albion: Where do we belong? presented by Northern Stage Young Company.