Dr. Douglass' fight for equal cultural access

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

Having an affinity for the arts, it was Douglass' mentor, AmNews medical columnist Dr. Gerald Deas, who got him into the Queens Council of the Arts. His work in the borough caught the eye of major elected officials, including Sens. Kevin Parker and Malcolm Smith.

Working on the council, he saw that libraries in certain communities, particularly communities of color, were not getting as much funding. Douglass said that underserved libraries are hit the hardest and the earliest for funding.

"What we have to do is start having more things in the libraries that are more community oriented and more youth oriented," Douglass said. "If you don't make it culturally relevant to these communities, people are not going to come."

Douglass' recent work has been helping with issues involving the Schomburg Center in Harlem. Funding issues have threatened the famed library that focuses on Black history.

"The Schomburg represents the African and African-American communities," he said. "The African-American community must have a say in the direction it's going in. You go to anyone else's library, they are concerned about preservation of a particular theme when it was established."

While he says he's far from done, Douglass wants to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a state regent. He lives by an African proverb as a means of inspiration to reach his goal. "Care more than others think is wise, rise more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical and expect more than others think is possible," he said.

Douglass currently resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Prince Hall Freemasonry, One Hundred Black Men and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Alpha Sigma Boule).