Walt Disney’s fascination with history was tantamount to the early design and direction of Disneyland to this day. Today, the Disneyland Opera House on Main Street, USA remains a tribute to the Americana, the past, and most especially Abraham Lincoln.
The Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show features a beautiful lobby area with historical nods to the former president as well as nods to great Americans of the past. Today, Disney announced a new addition honoring Frederick Douglass, commemorating a leader in our nation’s fight against slavery.
This new installation celebrates the relationship between the two distinguished patriots by adding a bust and portrait of Frederick Douglass near the existing bust and portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the lobby of the Opera House, as well as a framed copy of a U.S. Department of the Interior letter recognizing Douglass as a free man. The story of the two leaders and their work together is highlighted between the two busts.
Here’s some historical information, courtesy of Disney.
President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, a wartime act, which took effect Jan. 1, 1863. It declared that the enslaved in the Confederate states were considered free. However, it took leaders like Douglass to help guide Lincoln towards making the ending of slavery central to winning the Civil War.
Born in Maryland in 1818, Douglass was enslaved until escaping to freedom in 1838. During his enslavement, he learned to read and write, something that was not easy for someone in slavery to accomplish. This led to his lifelong skills as a great writer and orator. Settling in Massachusetts with his wife Anna Murray, Douglass became a powerful public speaker and joined the abolitionist movement to end slavery. He became a well-known and vocal leader in the movement.
Published in 1845, his first autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” became a national best-seller. This fame led to several meetings between Douglass and Lincoln during which Douglass was vocal in both pushing for the emancipation of the slaves and the inclusion of African Americans in the Union Army.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865, and all slaves, in both the North and the South, were freed.
See it for Yourself
The new tribute to Frederick Douglass can be found inside the Disneyland Opera House on Main Street, USA.