On the evening of May 9, 2016, National Park Service museum curators Bob Sonderman and Ka'mal McClarin presented an Overbeck Lecture on Frederick Douglass's life and association with Washington, D.C. Their presentation included a display of some of the great abolitionist's personal possessions, including his Bible and an oratorical instruction book that he credited with teaching him how to communicate effectively. Douglass, who escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1838 and became a powerful voice for African American freedom and civil rights, spent a significant part of his later life in the District of Columbia, including seven years in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and 18 years at Cedar Hill, his home in Anacostia.
Sonderman is regional curator for the National Park Service National Capital Region, with responsibility for the long-term care and preservation of museum property for over forty parks in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. He also directs the National Park Service Museum Resource Center, a vast storage facility for museum collections providing curatorial support to the parks of the National Capital Region.
McClarin is curator of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site at Cedar Hill and was the editor of Frederick Douglass: A Voice for Freedom and Justice. He also serves as curator-at-large for other National Capital Parks East historic sites, including the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House and the Carter G. Woodson National Historic Site. He earned his Ph.D. in U.S. public history and museum studies at Howard University in 2012 and has served the National Park Service since 2007.