In October 2021 the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center had two important visitors. Seen here on the steps of the FDMCC are (from left to right) artist Michael Rosato, Museum Director Dena Sewell, docents Diane Johnson and Nat Harrington, the great-great-great-great-great nephew of Frederick Douglass - Tarence Bailey Sr., and Museum Executive Director Jean Langston.
This special tour of Twin Oaks was arranged so that Mr. Rosato could get additional inspiration for his next project.
The artist just completed a 29-foot mural in Easton, Maryland that honors Frederick Douglass. The mural in Easton presents a timeline of Douglass’ life and depicts Anna Murray Douglass as an equal partner in the pursuit of equal rights and the abolition of slavery. It also showcases Douglass as an advocate for reading, education, and military service as pathways to prosperity and freedom for African-Americans. If you look closely, you'll spot Twin Oaks in the mural.
The Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass mural is located at 505 South Street in Easton on the side of the SolidTops building along the Easton Rail Trail.
All of Mr. Rosato’s murals are meant to inspire and educate through his representational art.
He has now been commissioned by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative to paint a large mural at New York's recently re-named Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. It is Mr. Rosato's newest commission that brought the pair to Highland Beach.
During the tour, Mr. Rosato was particularly impressed with the pine interior of Twin Oaks and said he hoped to incorporate some aspect of Twin Oaks in his Rochester, N.Y., project.
Mr. Rosato’s studio is in Cambridge and has many murals in the Maryland area.
He told the group his life has been transformed by his work to capture African-American history. He says it is an honor to work on these important projects.
Take My Hand is painted on the side of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center in Cambridge, Md.
Black Wall Street mural depicting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is on the Oklahoma State University campus in Tulsa.
Mr. Rosato was joined on the tour by Tarence Bailey. Bailey’s great-great-great-great grandfather was Frederick Douglass’ brother, Perry. Perry Bailey was enslaved on the Eastern Shore and then in Texas. After 56 years of enslavement, he was freed after the Civil War. He reunited with his brother, Frederick in 1867. The two had not seen each other in more than 40 years.
Mr. Bailey is dedicated to his family’s history. He told the group that after emancipation, the free blacks in the Cambridge area began to interact and inter-marry. Today, there are many descents who are both related to Frederick Douglass and to Harriett Tubman. “They could fill a football stadium,” he said.
Mr. Bailey is an Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom veteran. His father was drafted into Vietnam, and there are several Purple Hearts in his immediate family history.
He says military service goes back to his uncle, Frederick Douglass, whose two sons - Lewis Douglass and Charles Remond Douglass - served with the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Lewis was the first African-American Sergeant Major in U.S. history, and Charles was the first African-American to enlist for service during the Civil War. Both men are painted in the new mural. Bailey says this is appropriate because their bloodline is from Talbot County. In the mural, Bailey is in uniform, standing next to Frederick Douglass' two sons.
The Rochester, N.Y., mural is the next major project for Mr. Rosato. We look forward to seeing this new mural as it brings history to life.