7. 230 West 135th St, site of the offices of The New York Age
In late 1892, Douglass came again to New York City to visit the marvelous Ida B.Wells, whose investigative journalism into lynching of black people inspired and informed his later speeches and activism. He almost certainly came to visit her at this site. Wells had moved to New York City in late 1892 for a short time before settling in Chicago, and in that time became a writer for and part owner of The New York Age, a very influential black newspaper which thrived for decades; that paper and Wells’ powerful pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases were printed here.
Lynching was not, for a long time, a central issue for Douglass nor for many fellow abolitionists. However, when Wells’ friends were lynched on trumped-up charges following a business dispute, Wells was galvanized. She saw, firsthand, how lynching was a terroristic weapon to keep black people subjugated through fear. Her pioneering, tireless, and hard-hitting journalism on the subject convinced Douglass to join her cause.
Next, check out 10 Stops on the Underground Railroad in NYC and 15 ways to celebrate Black History Month in NYC. This article is adapted from the piece ‘Frederick Douglass New York City Sites’, published at ordinaryphilosophy.com as part of Amy Cools’ history of ideas travel series on Frederick Douglass.