By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – According to Marita Rivero, with the Boston Museum of African American History, “Frederick Douglass is almost a son of Massachusetts.”

Rivero says when Douglass escaped slavery in Maryland, he and his partner dressed in sailor suits, got on a boat and got off in New Bedford.

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The Boston Museum of African American History features an exhibit on Frederick Douglass. (WBZ-TV)

The fierce fighter against slavery took up post in the African Meeting House, which still stands on Joy Street in Boston, recruiting black soldiers to join the 54th Regiment of the Union Army.

Rivero says that at the time the Civil War was being lost by the North.

“They needed more people to fight, more people in the field and this community convinced President Abraham Lincoln to recruit black men,” says Rivero.

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The African Meeting House, erected in 1806, is the oldest black church building in America. It is now part of the Boston Museum of African American History.

The African Meeting House where Frederick Douglass recruited black soldiers to join the Union Army. (WBZ-TV)

Rivero says it is important to remember Douglass because “he was so important a figure in the human rights struggle.”

The Museum chronicles Douglass’ life with a unique exhibit that examines how Douglass used his own image to advance the abolitionist movement.

“In that era, black men were shown as cartoons and stereotypes. He [Douglass] felt that ‘I can control the camera.’ He had a chance to present himself, to promote the fact that he was going to be speaking and to promote the movement,” Rivero said.

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Like a social activist of the current day, Douglass used new technology of the time to send his message of freedom, for everyone.

Paul Burton