LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus participated in Douglass Day 2020, an annual, national transcribe-a-thon to honor the birthday of 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Douglass, who was born into slavery and never knew his birth date, chose to celebrate every year on Feb. 14, now known as Douglass Day to honor his memory. The holiday served as an early catalyst for the observation of Black History Month.
The Colored Conventions Project, which facilitates the transcribe-a-thon, “seeks to promote radical love for Black history (...) and to create communal spaces for remembering and preserving Black history together.”
The 2020 festivities honored Anna Julia Cooper, an African American writer, intellectual, educator and activist. She was born into slavery in 1858. She earned a doctorate from the University of Paris-Sorbonne and wrote a foundational text of black feminist thought, "A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South."
Penn State Fayette students, faculty and staff gathered at the campus library to transcribe and digitize letters, diaries, certificates, postcards and other papers authored by Cooper.
The online program, which aired on the Douglass Day Youtube channel, featured readings, discussions and songs, as well as social media discussions. Universities and local organizations participated from around the world.
“This event is a great opportunity to engage with our new partners in the Center for Black Digital Research to make the fuller archive of Cooper’s brilliant and prophetic work accessible to broader audiences and future generations,” said Emma Beaver, head librarian at Penn State Fayette.
Douglass Day 2020 was presented by the Colored Conventions Project, the Anna Julia Cooper Digital Project, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities, the Penn State University Libraries, Penn State’s Center for Humanities and Information, and the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.