President Donald Trump a signed bipartisan bill Thursday to create a commission that will plan the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Maryland abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The 16-member commission will plan and carry out programs to honor Douglass, who was born on the Eastern Shore in 1818. After escaping slavery, Douglass became a renowned orator, author, diplomat and adviser to President Abraham Lincoln.
The legislation had broad support within the Maryland congressional delegation, including from Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen as well as Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who represents the Eastern Shore.
“Honoring Douglass on his bicentennial allows the nation to look back at the incredible life and work of this great man,” Cardin said in a statement. “It also gives us a unique lens to view our world and nation today and the continuing fight for civil rights and equality.”
The law calls for members of the commission to be appointed within 60 days and for recommendations to be submitted by August.
“It is critical that Douglass’ contributions to our nation are recognized and celebrated,” Harris said. “I am eager to hear the commission’s recommendations.”
The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission is the 16th commemorative commission created by Congress since 1989, the lawmakers said. Only six of those commemorated specific individuals — none of whom were African American.
“This commission will explore how we can learn from his legacy and continue to apply these lessons today,” Van Hollen said in a statement.