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How A Speech From 1860 Resonates In Boston Today03:44
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Mob silencing Frederick Douglass at Tremont in 1860. (Winslow Homer for Harper's Weekly/Courtesy John Stauffer)
Mob silencing Frederick Douglass at Tremont in 1860. (Winslow Homer for Harper's Weekly/Courtesy John Stauffer)
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It was fitting that protestors and counterprotesters gathered on Saturday for the so-called "Free Speech" rally and protest in Boston.

Because it was in Boston in 1860 that Frederick Douglass, former slave and abolitionist stood at Music Hall and said, "We thought the principle of free speech was an accomplished fact. Here, if nowhere else, we thought the right of the people to assemble and to express their opinion was secure ... But here we are to-day contending for what we thought we gained years ago. The mortifying and disgraceful fact stares us in the face, that though Faneuil Hall and Bunker Hill Monument stand, freedom of speech is struck down."

That is part of Douglass' "Plea for Free Speech," responding to the denial of his free speech when he attempted to speak out about the death of John Brown.

Guest

John Stauffer, professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and co-curator of the exhibit "Picturing Frederick Douglass: The Most Photographed American of the 19th Century" at the Museum of African American History.

This segment aired on August 22, 2017.

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