In 2000, muralist Gary Mullen created a mural that depicts how abolitionist Fredrick Douglass learned to read. It is located in the city of Baltimore, where the abolitionist spent the formative years of his life as a slave, and where he taught himself to read. Titled Young Frederick Douglass’ Quest to Read, the mural was created bring pride to the residents of the Latrobe Homes area of north Baltimore.
After reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the story stayed with Mullen, and when asked by the Brentwood Village Initiative to propose a mural design, the story of Douglass’ life in Baltimore was the perfect subject. The panel scenes depict Douglass’ master, Hugh Auld, scolding his wife, Sophia, for assisting Douglass to read—an illegal act at the time; Douglass trading Sophia Auld’s bread to hungry white children in exchange for reading lessons; Douglass challenging children to write as well as he does; and 12 year-old Douglass discovering the meaning of abolition.
Mullen created the mural to emphasise the importance of education to the African American community in Baltimore, and local residents have received it enthusiastically, “It’s not everyday you get a mural like this in your community,” committee organiser, Patrick Lee said.