Frederick Douglass is one of my favorite characters in American history. At the age of 20, he escaped slavery and went on to become a famed abolitionist, editor, orator, and author.
Initially, Douglass was persuaded by radicals like William Lloyd Garrison, who believed that the United States Constitution was little more than a document that justified slavery. Garrison refused to vote in elections and even ripped up the constitution in public.
However, Douglass eventually parted with Garrison. Instead of working to overthrow the system, Douglass recognized that the constitution contained the mechanism for real change.
I really wish I could have been at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to hear Frederick Douglass IV talk about his famous great-great-grandfather.
“We all have in ourselves the innate ability to transform our lives for the better,” he told the crowd.
“We all are involved in slavery,” Douglass IV said Tuesday. “It’s a part of our lives. All these things that are part of the American experience have an impact on us. American history is not ‘black history’ or ‘white history.’”
“I encourage young men in particular to resume their responsibility in society—to be full participants. You have to understand how the country functions. You have to vote. You have to become economically viable. Then you can go out in society and have an impact on others,” he said.
According to the story I read, Douglass travels the country talking about the lessons we can learn from the life of Frederick Douglass. If anyone knows where he is scheduled to speak next, send me an email.