President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a bill into law setting up a commission to honor the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth next year.
The law commends the 19th Century abolitionist leader for a life dedicated to fighting injustice, and states, “all Americans could benefit from studying the life of Frederick Douglass, for Douglass dedicated his own life to ensuring freedom and equality for future generations of Americans.”
It sets up a commission to execute programs to honor Douglass next year, marking the bicentennial of his birth in 2018.
The White House issued a statement by Trump anticipating the “valuable work” of that commission.
“I look forward to working with the commission to celebrate the achievements of this great man,” the President’s statement said.
Trump remarked on Douglass in February at a breakfast event with African-American supporters marking the start of African-American history month.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said.
The White House has courted controversy more recently by navigating Civil War politics.
Trump in August said he opposed the removal of monuments lionizing the Confederacy, which fought to keep alive and expand slavery.
White House chief of staff John Kelly earlier this week said, “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”
Kelly’s remarks about the Civil War drew criticism for their characterization of the history surrounding the conflict, and for not mentioning slavery.
The bill passed Congress without opposition, and was introduced by DC Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris.