|Frederick Douglass returns to Portland|
Portraying Frederick Douglass, Peartree took his Peaks Island audience back to the early 1800s when "Fred" was a small boy just realizing his enslavement on a plantation. The performance fast forwarded to Douglass' years as a teenager when he escaped the plantation, learned to read, and started his journey toward becoming when of America's greatest 19th century orators, writers, journalists, and abolitionists. This journey would include at least one visit to Portland, Maine.
Like many other well-known abolitionists, Douglass spoke in Portland, Maine but not always to a receptive audience. Maine's economy was deeply intertwined with the slave-based economy of the South and not everyone championed abolition of slaves.
Some insight into what Douglass experienced on that visit comes from a 1904 interview of underground railroad conductor Miss Charlotte Thomas at her home in Portland. She talked about her personal experience with the abolitionist movement in Portland that ended with her becoming embroiled in one of Portland's riots.
|Charlotte Thomas, courtesy Fifth Maine|
|Guy Peartree Performs at Fifth Maine|
Thanks to the hard-won gains of the Civil War, and Civil Rights struggles that followed it, the 2012 visit of Frederick Douglass/performer Guy Peartree - was greeted only with smiles and well-deserved applause.