Frederick Douglass
A Better Man than I

I have taught history for over two decades. Therefore, I thought that I knew a great deal about those that I studied. Bobby Kennedy is a mentor of mine since the 60s. While I knew a great deal about his activities in the public sphere, I didn’t know very much about him at the personal level.

What was true about Bobby Kennedy is true also of Fredrick Douglass. Douglass was a black slave who freed himself and worked freeing other slaves as well as abolition of slavery in the South.

Frederick Douglass

Douglass was born in 1818 into slavery in Maryland. His mother, Harriet Bailey, gave him his name, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. He was taken away from his mother very early in his life and was cared for by his maternal grandmother. By the time that he was six, again, the slave owner took him from her also. When his slave owner died, he wound up with another owner, Hugh Auld. Interestingly, Auld’s wife, Sophia treat Douglass nicely until her husband told her how to treat slaves.

Due to a family rift between Hugh and his brother, Thomas, Thomas acquired Douglass who gave him to another person. At the age of sixteen, Douglas became this person’s slave. This person beat Douglass so often that one day Douglass fought back, which did two things. First, the owner never touched Douglass again. Second, Douglass decided that to survive, he needed to escape slavery.

Douglass made several attempts to gain his freedom but failed. However, thanks to Anna Murray, who was a free black woman, helped him escape to Philadelphia and then on to New York. Douglas was free at last. In turn, he sent for Anna Murray, and they were married on September 15, 1838 by a black Presbyterian pastor.

Douglass and Murray

As Douglass looked back upon his life, he became stronger in the midst of his physical and emotional pain. He said, “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

Douglass' early life

However, as a result of Douglass’ early life, it changed him in his adult life. “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” He learned the lesson about no pain no gain.

That pain resulted in Douglass being a far better man than I. Interestingly, a dozen years after the Civil War, Thomas Auld and Fredrick Douglas met one more time just before Auld died. The conversation between the former slave owner and his slave was telling. Auld said, “Frederick, I always knew you were too smart to be a slave, and had I been in your place, I should have done as you did.” Well, Douglass responded, “I did not run away from you. I ran away from slavery.”

Had I been in Douglass’ shoes, I would have said that one’s IQ has no baring whether that person should be a slave. Obviously, Auld had a much lower IQ if slavery was tied to intelligence.

Douglass said, “Slavery is indeed gone, but its long, black shadow yet falls broad and large over the face of the whole country.” Whites in America have a terrible track record when it come to our dealing with blacks. The overt issue of slavery and later segregation was due to white bigots. That is obvious. However, there haven’t been many whites that have done much for blacks in America in my lifetime, excluding people like Bobby Kennedy.

About a century before my birth, Douglass wrote, “I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins—and he her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them.”

Enter Donald the Dumb, who said of himself, “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!” Well, neither of his assertions are correct that of being a genius or stable. During Black History Month, Donald the Dumb said, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”

Yo, Donald, Douglass died 123-years ago.

Donald the Dumb is thinking

After pondering for fifteen minutes, Thump said, “How could I have made a mistake? I’m a genius.” Fredrick Douglass along with Barack Obama are better men by far than Donald the Dumb.

On Seeing the Light

On Seeing the Light

Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.

Best of Times

Best and Worst of Times

Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.

Donald the Dumb

Donald the Dumb

Visit the Donald the Dumb page to read more about this topic.

Darkest Before Dawn

Darkest Before Dawn

Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.

Man in the Arena

Man in the Arena

Visit the Man in the Arena page to read more about this topic.