How New Bedford shaped Frederick Douglass, and how he then shaped the nation

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Today, we talk about two incredible parts of Massachusetts history and how they intersect.

First is the community of New Bedford, which is largely known for its Massachusetts legacy around whaling.

The other is Frederick Douglass, the Black intellectual and formerly enslaved abolitionist. He made history repeatedly in the 19th century and remains, to this day, one of young America's most compelling figures.

It turns out, those docks, the whaling industry, the port, intersected with the Underground Railroad, a demand for labor that didn't care about one's past, and an entire multicultural community that led to freedom for Douglass. He called New Bedford his first home after escaping bondage in Maryland.

It's a fascinating part of the commonwealth's legacy, and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, Research Director at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Lee Blake, President of the New Bedford Historical Society, join us to look back on it.

This segment aired on March 1, 2022.

Tiziana Dearing Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.


Sarah Leeson Freelance Producer
Sarah Leeson was a freelance producer for WBUR's Radio Boston.



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