Lynne V. Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, told about 85 people at the Enoch Pratt Free Library last night that they don't know what obstacles are - not compared to what abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass endured.
"You think you've got obstacles to overcome," Cheney said. "Look at what this man did."
Cheney's remarks followed a dramatic presentation by Frederick Douglass IV and his wife, B.J. Douglass, that chronicled his great-great-grandfather's escape from slavery in Baltimore on Sept. 3, 1838.
Their presentation, complemented by Jali D. on percussion, ended with a stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful" by B.J. Douglass.
Afterward, Cheney was given the Frederick Douglass Visionary Leadership Award.
"We are recognizing your ongoing contributions to literature and for your honoring my great-great-grandfather in your book," Frederick Douglass IV said.
Cheney, 61, was chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993. She has written articles about history for numerous publications, and is co-author or author of six books. Her most recent, America: A Patriotic Primer, was released in May and is an alphabet book for children and their families.
Part of Cheney's inspiration for it, she said, were her three granddaughters. "I really wanted them to know the history of this country," she said. "It is very important that they know those ideas and ideals" on which the country was founded, "and that they know the other part, the men and women who made those ideas and ideals a reality."
Former recipients of the award include President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat.
Cheney has a master's degree in English literature from the University of Colorado and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.