Black America #1 - Frederick Douglas

Black America #1 - Frederick Douglas


Occupation: American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman

Hometown: Talbot County, Maryland

“I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.”

Were the words found in the first page of the first chapter of Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey’s autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

This man’s humble beginning began with the separation of Douglas from his grandmother and he was sent to Baltimore to Hugh Auld.

Hugh’s wife, Sophia, started teaching Douglas the alphabet at the tender age of twelve.  This was actually an illegal practice as it is against the law to teach slaves to read.  When Hugh discovered what his wife was doing, he immediately voiced his disapproval. He stated that if a slave learned to read, then he would become dissatisfied with his life and desire freedom.  Douglas took this as a challenge and continued to learn to read from the white children in the neighborhood.  Then Mrs. Auld found out, and told him that education and slavery were incompatible with each other.  Challenge accepted!  Eventually he began teaching other slaves.  But this was not enough, the more he learned, the more he wanted freedom.

In 1837, Douglas met and fell in love with Anna Murray, a free black from Baltimore.  The idea of her being free strengthened his resolve in gaining his own freedom.  He finally obtained his goal by dressing in a sailor’s uniform and boarded a train to make a long journey until he reached New York.

Once he finally gained his freedom, he did not stop there he also fought for women’s rights!  He claimed that he could not accept the right to vote if women could not.

"In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world."

All in all, this man knew no boundaries.  After years of people putting obstacles in his ways and telling what he could not do.  He looked at each hurdle with the same mind set: Challenge accepted!