The late Frederick Douglass celebrated his 186 birthday on Friday, Feb. 13, 2004. He was honored for his activeness in women’s rights and equal opportunities for all. Douglass was committed to women and their rights. Very few male figures were as concerned for women as Douglass was. During the Seneca Falls convention in 1850, he created his motto for his newspaper, North Star, “Right is of no sex truth is of no color God is the father of us all, and we are all brethren.”
Douglass made his last public lecture at WCU, 19 days before he died. In a public speaking class he spoke of lynching and the critical state of lawlessness. He was a guest of the West Chester Normal School’s prinicipal, George Morris Philips.
The Fredrick Douglass Institute is very active on the WCU campus. “The insitute works with teachers at all levels with learning institutions and sponsors, exhibits, and speech lecutures,” stated Dr. C. James Trotman, Director of the Institute. The FDI is celebrating its 10 anniversary at WCU. The institute works with Women’s Studies to promote women’s rights and women leadership on campus.
The FDI contributes to faculty diversity. A summer teaching program allows doctral level minority students to teach at WCU over the summer. This opportunity has been successful to the students; nearly half teach on college campuses all over the country, and three are full time teachers at WCU. “The institue is dedicated to keeping his work and his mission alive and to promoting multicultural studies in the curriculum,” said Trotman.
Dr. Geetha Ramanathan, a Professor of English and Director of Women’s Studies at WCU, has been awarded the Fulbright Fellowship Award from the FDI. She is being recognized for her stature in the global community of scholars.
Ramanathan is described as, “truly a model of the teacher’s scholar,” by Trotman, “She combines both the art of teaching in the classroom and the skill of the scholar to analyze development.” Beginning in the fall, Geetha will teach classes in gender, women studies and third world women at Klagenfurt, Austria.
The FDI has always been a part of the WCU campus academic program. There are many upcoming events through the FDI. There will be numerous lectures during the next few months, check out the FDI Web site at: http://www.wcupa.edu/_academics/fdouglass/.