"Reclaiming Space": Noelle Lorraine Williams and the Creation of the Frederick Douglass Athletic Field

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, Rutgers University (Newark) rededicated Alumni Field as Frederick Douglass Field. Frederick Douglass looms large as figure in history—in fact, the Pulitzer Prize Committee honored Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight with its 2019 Prize in History. Beyond the movement for emancipation in the Nineteenth Century, Douglass is associated with the movements for equal rights for African Americans, women’s suffrage, temperance, and even Irish independence.

This episode’s discussion focuses on this legacy and the act of renaming a space in recognition of that space’s history. The field was once the site of an African American and is associated with abolitionist meetings in Newark. Noelle, this episode’s guest, discusses this history, as well as the history of other movements in Newark, including that of the American Colonization Society, and the conflicts that arise in renaming spaces.


(1) In the episode, it was mentioned that Sharpe James was the mayor during the change of the name of High Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. He was in fact a member of the Newark City Council at the time.

(2) It was mentioned that Richard Stockton founded Liberia. His name was Robert Stockton.


Noelle Lorraine Williams— Noelle is an artist whose life's work exemplifies her continued interest in engaging people in conversations using art, history and contemporary culture, as well as writing about spirituality in the United States. Noelle is also pursuing a Master’s Degree in American Studies at Rutgers University. She is also a resident of Newark.

Articles & Background:

  • Link to the Rededication Event on April 17, 2019: here

  • Rutgers University Newark Official Article on the Renaming: here

  • Pulitzer Prize Official Page on Frederick Douglass Biography: here

  • Noelle Lorraine William’s Official Page: here

End Quote":

“Whatever lies still uncarried from the abyss within me as I die dies with me.“—Frank Bidart, Homo Faber, published in Half-light: Collected Poems, 1965–2016