Haiti: What Would Frederick Douglass Say?

Registration for this program is now closed.

douglass painting

Frederick Douglass, a leading 19th century African American abolitionist, was deeply inspired by the Haitian Revolution. In this event on Sunday, June 4, noted Haitian storyteller Charlot Lucien will explore some of Douglass’s powerful speeches on Haiti, which offered African Americans new perspectives on revolution and helped counter negative narratives about Haiti during the antebellum era.

This exciting event encompasses poetry, music, scholarship, and storytelling in Creole, English, and French. Lucien will channel Douglass by performing some of his most famous speeches on Haiti and imagining his perspectives on key events in Haitian history, such as the United States’ 1806 embargo of Haiti and France’s decision to impose a crushing debt on the Haitian people in return for acknowledging its independence. The character of Douglass will be placed in conversation with white abolitionist Wendell Phillips, portrayed by Joseph Bocchicchio, and Susan B. Anthony, portrayed by Lynn Smith.

Douglass’s connections to Haiti run deep: He served in 1889-1891 as the United States’ first accredited Black ambassador in Haiti under President Benjamin Harrison. He later represented Haiti in 1893 at the International Chicago Fair, where he delivered a fierce speech in defense of Haiti.

This program is free and open to the public, and will begin at 3:00 pm. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Made possible by the generous support of The Lowell Institute, this program is co-sponsored by Haitian-Americans United, Inc., the Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts, and Trilingual Press.


Sunday, June 4, 2023 at 3:00 PM

Old South Meeting House
Admission is free.

About the Participants

Charlot Lucien is a Haitian storyteller, poet, visual artist, lecturer, and the founder of the Boston-based Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts. He uses his art and writing to promote Haitian culture and advocate for many civil rights, public health, and humanitarian issues through his involvement with various cultural and civic organizations. Lucien has been a long-term public health manager for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a lecturer on Haiti-US historical connections with the OLLI Institute at the University of Massachusetts. He frequently participates as a guest speaker on Haiti’s culture and history in various academic and cultural venues in the US.He holds membership with various civic/humanitarian organizations, including the think-tank Groupe of Reflection and Action for a New Haiti (GRAHN-USA), the West African Research Association (WARA), Société des poètes francophones, the Haitian Americans United Inc (HAU), The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Haiti Projects. He is the recipient of several awards acknowledging his cultural contributions from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, the Haitian Roundtable 1804 Haitian Americans Changemakers List, and various cultural and academic institutions.

Joseph Bocchicchio is an activist and community organizer having facilitated Poverty, Creative Writing and Theater of the Oppressed Workshops for the indigent and working poor. Bocchicchio worked for 24 years in Community Mental Health in Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, and did grass roots organizing for opiate addiction treatment and suicide prevention for the Last Letter Project in Akron, Ohio. He now works part time for Revolutionary Spaces, where he researches and does presentations on various historical topics. His poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared in Ovunque Siamo, Cut-Throat, Up-street, Jawbone, Entropy, Panning for Poems, Enclave, and The Daily Clout.

Lynn Smith is a volunteer Board Member for the Friends of Linden Place, which oversees the operations of an 1810 Federal style mansion in Bristol, RI that was built from the profits of the DeWolf Family slave trading business. Smith is an interpreter there and helped Linden Place with re-evaluation and re-interpretation of its history, with input from leading scholars from the African American and Indigenous communities. She is currently mapping the neighborhood founded by the 1850 free black population of Bristol, called Goree. Most of her professional career was spent in commercial banking, first in Boston and then in New Haven. While living in Brockton, MA she helped found a number of neighborhood associations designed to increase citizen engagement, one of which was the Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association.