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Frederick Douglass Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

From left to right: Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib

Do We Want the America of Frederick Douglass or Donald Trump?

By Commentaries/Opinions

By Walter G. Moss — One version of America is that of President Trump, whose recent tweets led the U. S. House of Representatives to condemn his “comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans.” His slogan “Make America Great Again,” his attempts to limit voting, and his pandering to Christian evangelicals are not-so-subtle signals that he perceives himself as defending the fortress of white, primarily male and Christian, dominance…

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American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, circa 1855.

The History of Frederick Douglass’ Searing Independence Day Oration

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

By Olivia B. Waxman,Time  — After the Independence Day military parade in the nation’s capital on Thursday, President Donald Trump will give a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the most recognizable memorial to his predecessor’s leadership during the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. And yet, alternative Fourth of July commemorations across the United States often draw attention to a different side of that story, with readings of the…

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Frederick Douglass, 1850.

What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? By Frederick Douglass

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

The entire speech by Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 — Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the…

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Frederick Douglass

Slavery and the Family Tree

By Reparations

By Whitney Stewart, Black Perspectives — How do you make a family tree when you may not know your family history? Beyond the very real physical and emotional toll on enslaved individuals, slavery’s violence also lay in its determination to erase or prevent the creation of family histories. As Frederick Douglass asserted in his 1855 autobiography, “Genealogical trees do not flourish among slaves.” In other words, the constraints of slavery made assembling and representing…

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Commentary, Articles and Essays by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Beyond the Bondage of Plantation Politics: Crafting Our Own Presidential Platform — Part 1

By Dr. Maulana Karenga

Part. 1. By Dr. Maulana Karenga — During both the Holocaust of enslavement and the era of segregation, leaving the plantation was a metaphor, mental process and actual practice of freedom. It was a freeing oneself mentally and physically, thinking freedom and then acting in ways that led to its achievement as did Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Messenger Muhammad and countless others in their rejection of and resistance to…

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Commentary, Articles and Essays by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Beyond the Bondage of Plantation Politics: Crafting Our Own Presidential Platform — Part 2

By Dr. Maulana Karenga

Part. 2. By Dr. Maulana Karenga — The insistence on calling our righteous and relentless struggle by its rightful name, The Black Freedom Movement, instead of the Civil Rights Movement, is no minor matter.  For it speaks to our commitment to freedom itself and reflects in a real way how we understand ourselves and our initiative and history in the world. Indeed, it reveals our resistance to plantation politics that…

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Donald Trump and Frederick Douglass

Biographer explains the lessons of Frederick Douglass: ‘White supremacy does not die — it revives in new forms’

By Commentaries/Opinions

Biographer David Blight on Douglass’ lessons for us: “White supremacy does not die … it revives in new forms.”   By Chauncey DeVega, Salon — Black History Month, which has just concluded, was first established as Negro History Week in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. February was chosen in particular because it contained two very important dates: Feb….

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A new statue (2015) of Frederick Douglass stands in Hornbake Plaza.

Frederick Douglass and Irish Home Rule

By Reparations

Image: A new statue (2015) of Frederick Douglass stands in Hornbake Plaza. Note: While most of us generally think about the profound activism and wisdom of Frederick Douglass being acknowledged primarily in the United States, his work and reputation was, in fact, international, as noted below regarding his visits to Ireland. In addition, another aspect of the movement for justice and the abolition of slavery was the British/Irish international support…

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Frederick Douglass

David Blight on Frederick Douglass: ‘I call him beautifully human’

By Commentaries/Opinions

‘At first I didn’t want to,’ says the author of this magisterial biography of the great abolitionist, ‘it was so daunting’ By Martin Pengelly, The Guardian — David Blight arrives in New York pulling his carry-on luggage, en route from Washington, soon to fly onwards to San Francisco. Such is the interest in his new biography of Frederick Douglass, a book 10 years in the writing and a whole career…

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No one was ever a more critical reader of the Constitution, or a more compelling advocate of its virtues, than Douglass.

The Prophetic Pragmatism of Frederick Douglass

By Editors' Choice

He escaped from slavery, and helped rescue America. By Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker — Frederick Douglass, who has been called the greatest American of the nineteenth century, grew up as a slave named Frederick Bailey, and the story of how he named himself in freedom shows how complicated his life, and his world, always was. Frederick’s father, as David W. Blight shows in his extraordinary new biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet…

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