Black History Month 2017 – Feature #1: Frederick Douglass

I must apologize for my lateness. Here we are, nearly halfway through Black History Month, and I am just now writing my first post. Nevertheless, I have been compiling a number of features to share. Where possible, I will embed either the full text or excerpts of sources I have used. In other cases, I will have to provide just the links to these sources, and ask you, dear reader, to take the time to open and read the links.

For this first post, I must reluctantly thank Mr. Trump for inspiring me to pay tribute to Frederick Douglass, the former slave turned abolitionist, orator, and statesman. I am ashamed to admit how little I really know about Mr. Douglass, especially since he was, like me, a native of Maryland. Still, I knew much more than Mr. Trump did, when he kicked off this month with a small meeting, surrounded by “his” African-Americans, Omarosa Manigault and Dr. Ben Carson. Here is a link to the full transcript of Trump’s meeting [http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/a-full-transcript-of-donald-trumps-black-history-month-1791871370?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=The_Concourse_facebook].

And by now, we should all be able to quote the “highlight” of Mr. Trump’s ode to Frederick Douglass, below:

“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”

It is fortunate that I was also able to find Frederick Douglass Family’s Response to Donald Trump, which you can read in full at the following link: [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/more-and-more-about-frederick-douglass_us_5892855fe4b01a7d8e512b13?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003].

What follows is just a snippet of that response, which lists many of the history-making accomplishments of Frederick Douglas:

  • “Persuading the American public and Abraham Lincoln that we are all equal and deserving of the right to live free,
  • Establishing the North Star newspaper when there was very little in the way of navigation or hope for the millions of enslaved persons,
  • Being appointed the first black U.S. Marshal by President Rutherford B. Hayes,
  • Being appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti by President Benjamin Harrison.”

Finally, I found a very interesting article about the life of Frederick Douglass, with particular emphasis on how his slaveholders used access to food and drink to control slaves [http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/10/514385071/frederick-douglass-on-how-slave-owners-used-food-as-a-weapon-of-control]. This article also includes citations of some of Mr. Douglass’s books. Two brief excerpts from the article follow:

“Douglass was born on a plantation in Eastern Maryland in 1817 or 1818 – he did not know his birthday, much less have a long-form birth certificate – to a black mother (from whom he was separated as a boy) and a white father (whom he never knew and who was likely the “master” of the house). He was parceled out to serve different members of the family. His childhood was marked by hunger and cold, and his teen years passed in one long stretch of hard labor, coma-like fatigue, routine floggings, hunger, and other commonplace tortures from the slavery handbook….

 Hunger was the young Fred’s faithful boyhood companion. “I have often been so pinched with hunger, that I have fought with the dog – ‘Old Nep’ – for the smallest crumbs that fell from the kitchen table, and have been glad when I won a single crumb in the combat,” he wrote in My Bondage and My Freedom. “Many times have I followed, with eager step, the waiting-girl when she went out to shake the table cloth, to get the crumbs and small bones flung out for the cats.”

I hope that you will join me in exploring the writings of Frederick Douglass.

We could certainly use his help in our current unsettled and regressive times.


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