David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale, will discuss Douglass’ connections to Rhode Island, his vision for freedom, and his relationships with fellow Rhode Island abolitionists. The talk will be accompanied by African American spirituals by the Schiller Boston Community Chorus.
Presented with Stages of Freedom, as part of their series “Frederick Douglass in Rhode Island,” funded by the RI Council for the Humanities, Providence Tourism, and the Herman H. Rose Civic, Cultural and Media Access Fund
David W. Blight is a teacher, scholar and public historian. At Yale University, he is Sterling Professor of History, joining that faculty in January, 2003. As of June, 2004, he is Director, succeeding David Brion Davis, of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. In his capacity as director of the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale, Blight organizes conferences, working groups, lectures, the administering of the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, and many public outreach programs regarding the history of slavery and its abolition. He previously taught at Amherst College for thirteen years. In 2013-14 he was the William Pitt Professor of American History at Cambridge University, UK, and in 2010-11, Blight was the Rogers Distinguished Fellow in 19th-Century American History at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. During the 2006-07 academic year he was a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars, New York Public Library. In October of 2018, Simon and Schuster published his new biography of Frederick Douglass, entitled, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, which garnered nine book awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. The Douglass book has been optioned by Higher Ground Productions and Netflix for a projected feature film. Blight works in many capacities in the world of public history, including on boards of museums and historical societies, and as a member of a small team of advisors to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum team of curators. For that institution he wrote the recently published essay, “Will It Rise: September 11 in American Memory.” In 2012, Blight was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and delivered an induction address, “The Pleasure and Pain of History.” In 2018, Blight was appointed by the Georgia Historical Society as a Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellow, which recognizes national leaders in the field of history as both writers and educators whose research has enhanced or changed the way the public understands the past.