Conference Schedule

“The Young Frederick Douglass: From Slavery to Freedom” - 9:05-10:00 a.m.

  • Dr. Richard DeJesús-Rueff, Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives, St. John Fisher College;
  • Yantee Slobert, Director of Multicultural Affairs, St. John Fisher College;
  • Dr. Timothy Madigan, Director, Irish Studies Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy, St. John Fisher College

“Douglass, Ireland, and the Great Famine” - 10:10-11:05 a.m.

  • Ann Coughlan, Ph.D. Candidate in English, University College, Cork, Ireland;
  • Dr. Patricia Ferreira, Professor of English, Norwich University

“Douglass and Rochester” - 11:15 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

  • Dr. Carolyn Vacca, Associate Professor of History, St. John Fisher College, and Monroe County Historian;
  • Melissa Jadlos, Director, Lavery Library, St. John Fisher College


“The Civil War, Draft Riots, and Women’s Suffrage” - 1:25-2:20 p.m.

  • Dr. David Baronov, Professor and Chair of Sociology, St. John Fisher College;
  • Dr. Leigh Fought, Assistant Professor of History, Le Moyne College

“Douglass and Ireland: Lessons to be Learned” - 2:30-3:25 p.m.

Excerpts from Douglass’ speeches will be recited by students from School No. 12’s Frederick Douglass Club. David Anderson, Community Scholar in Residence at Nazareth College and Douglass impersonator, will interact with the audience.


“The Continuing Relevance of Douglass and Ireland” - 3:35-4:30 p.m.

An open discussion with presenters and attendees.


“Frederick Douglass and the White Negro” - Film - 5:00-6:00 p.m.

A showing of the 2008 Irish documentary film, which follows Douglass’ life from slavery as a young man through to his time in Ireland where he befriended Daniel O’Connell, and toured the country spreading the message of abolition. The film examines the turbulent relationships between African Americans and Irish Americans during the Civil War, what drew them together, what drove them apart, and how this would shape the American of the 20th century and beyond.

The conference is sponsored by St. John Fisher College and the New York Council for Humanities.

Conference Presenters

  • Timothy Madigan (Ph.D. SUNY-Buffalo) is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John Fisher College and the Director of its new Irish Studies Program. He will lead a discussion on Douglass’s role as a Human Rights advocate. He is a Speaker in the Humanities for the New York Council for the Humanities and is skilled in leading interactive discussions.
  • Carolyn S. Vacca (Ph.D. University of Rochester) is an Associate Professor of History at St. John Fisher College and also serves as the Monroe County Historian. Her book A Reform Against Nature examines the language of the woman’s suffrage debates and its impact on notions of citizenship. She will lead a discussion on the reasons why Douglass moved to Rochester after his return from Ireland and Great Britain in 1847, and his connections with the Irish communities in New York State.
  • David Baronov (Ph.D. SUNY-Binghamton) is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at St. John Fisher College. He will lead a discussion on the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 and the lessons to be learned from this regarding relations between the African-American and Irish-American communities then and now.
  • David Anderson (Ph.D, the Union Institute) is Community Scholar in Residence in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education at Nazareth College. He chairs the Freedom Trail Commission, and performs living history re-enactments of Frederick Douglass. He will perform as Douglass and take questions from the audience on Douglass’s Irish experiences.
  • Ann Coughlan (Ph.D. Candidate in English, University College, Cork, Ireland) is completing her dissertation on the topic of Douglass’s time in Ireland. She will lead a discussion on Douglass’s 3 autobiographies, how they differ from each other and how they have inspired countless abolitionists during his lifetime and continue to inspire new generations of readers, and the role which his time in Ireland played in helping him as a writer and lecturer.
  • Leigh Fought (Ph.D. University of Houston) is Assistant Professor of History at Le Moyne College and has worked as associate editor on the first volume of Douglass’s correspondence, published by Yale University Press. She will lead a discussion on Douglass’s connection with the Women’s Rights Movement and its relevance to present-day issues. She has just completed a year of research in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Patricia Ferreira is a Professor in the Department of English, Norwich University. She will lead a discussion on Douglass’s lectures in Ireland in 1845 and his friendship with Daniel O’Connell, the Great Irish Emancipator, and how this relationship became a focal point during President Barack Obama’s visit to Ireland in May 2011.