West Chester’s First African-American Mayor Gifts $50,000 to WCU in Honor of Frederick Douglass

From left: West Chester University president Chris Fiorentino, Clifford DeBaptiste, his daughter Lillian DeBaptiste, and Christian Awuyah, professor of English and director of WCU's Frederick Douglass Institute.

West Chester University will celebrate the legacy of the renowned abolitionist, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglass through a distinguished lecture series that will bring renowned experts to the attention of students and those within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

And it has been made possible courtesy of a $50,000 gift from the Honorable Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, the first African-American mayor of West Chester and a recognized champion of education.

Dr. DeBaptiste’s gift has been made in honor of the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth. Douglass, who was born into slavery with the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey and whose actual birth date is unknown, chose to commemorate his birthday on Feb. 14, 1818.

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“Frederick Douglass’s legacy should be exposed to generations and continued for numerous years to come,” said Dr. DeBaptiste. “Many African-Americans have made lasting contributions to our society. If we do not tell their stories, they will be forgotten.

“Douglass’s history is both awesome and inspiring. I am pleased that the university has been very receptive to this important lecture series.”

The Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste Frederick Douglass Lecture Series will begin in the fall with the inaugural lecture of Dr. James Trotman, author of Frederick Douglass: A Biography, on Oct. 13.

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