Frederick Douglass the Founder of the Civil Rights Movement

     At this time it is well to look back at the greats
in American history to understand and reflect on
the talents and challenges of the leaders of today.
It is said that Frederick Douglass was, by his actions and
writings, the founder of America’s civil rights movement. Here,
from an informative Wikipedia article, we read part of the story
of the great Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington
Bailey), (c. February 1818-February 20, 1895) was an African-
American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and
statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became
a national leader of the abolitionist movement in
Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling
oratory] and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was
described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to
slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual
capacity to function as independent American citizens.
Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a
great orator had once been a slave.
Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his
experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of
the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which
became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause
of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My
Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an
active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last
autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First
published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his
death, it covered events during and after the Civil War.
Douglass also actively supported women’s suffrage, and held
several public offices. Without his approval, Douglass became
the first African American nominated for Vice President of the
United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential
nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.
Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples,
whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant.
He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances
across racial and ideological divides and in the liberal values of
the American Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under
the motto “No Union With Slaveholders,” criticized Douglass’
willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied:
“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do
One biographer argues:
“The most influential African American of the
nineteenth century, Douglass made a career of
agitating the American conscience. He spoke and
wrote on behalf of a variety of reform causes:
women’s rights, temperance, peace, land reform,
free public education, and the abolition of capital
punishment. But he devoted the bulk of his time,
immense talent, and boundless energy to ending
slavery and gaining equal rights for African
Americans. These were the central concerns of his
long reform career. Douglass understood that the
struggle for emancipation and equality demanded
forceful, persistent, and unyielding agitation. And
he recognized that African Americans must play a
conspicuous role in that struggle. Less than a
month before his death, when a young black man
solicited his advice to an African American just
starting out in the world, Douglass replied without
hesitation, “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

Fondly submitted for the Diversity Committee

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1 Response to Frederick Douglass the Founder of the Civil Rights Movement

  1. kathe1223 says:

    On target as usual. Sorry you missed the meeting, your comments would have been an asset.

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