DCS: frederick douglass

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.

Frederick Douglass was a one-time slave who, secretly, taught himself how to read a write. He eventually escaped his inhumane treatment, fleeing to the North and settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He became an outspoken proponent for freedom as a firm believer in equality for all people. He was an advocate for voting rights for women and African-Americans and gave many passionate public speeches on the issue. He became the first African-American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull (the first woman to run for U.S. President), on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

At a recent White House breakfast to kick off Black History Month, a vague and confused reference by the current president brought Douglass’s name to the headlines, prompting Robert Benz a co-founder of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, to issue this statement:

As Co-Founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, I’m able to publish, exclusively, the following statement from the direct descendants of Frederick Douglass:

The President’s comments from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, about Frederick Douglass, were noted and appreciated by us, the Douglass family. In fact, we believe, if he had more time to elaborate, the President would have mentioned the following:

“Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job …

  • Enduring the inhumanity of slavery after being born heir to anguish and exploitation but still managing to become a force for solace and liberty when America needed it most,
  • Recognizing that knowledge was his pathway to freedom at such a tender age,
  • Teaching himself to read and write and becoming one of the country’s most eloquent spokespersons,
  • Standing up to his overseer to say that ‘I am a man!’
  • Risking life and limb by escaping the abhorrent institution,
  • Composing the Narrative of his life and helping to expose slavery for the crime against humankind that it is,
  • Persuading the American public and Abraham Lincoln that we are all equal and deserving of the right to live free,
  • Establishing the North Star newspaper when there was very little in the way of navigation or hope for the millions of enslaved persons,
  • Supporting the rights of women when few men of such importance endeavored to do so,
  • Arguing against unfair U.S. immigration restrictions,
  • Understanding that racism in America is part of our “diseased imagination,”
  • Recruiting his sons—who were born free—to fight in the war to end the enslavement of other African Americans,
  • Being appointed the first black U.S. Marshal by President Rutherford B. Hayes,
  • Being appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti by President Benjamin Harrison,
  • Serving as a compelling role model for all Americans for nearly two centuries.”

Like the President, we use the present tense when referencing Douglass’s accomplishments because his spirit and legacy are still very much alive, not just during Black History Month, but every month. Leading up to the Bicentennial of Douglass’s birth, in February 2018, here are some of the initiatives that we, the Frederick Douglass family, will be implementing as well as some of those we hope to implement with the support of this administration, the institutions it leads and the American people (black, brown and white alike):

  • Publishing the Bicentennial Edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,
  • Giving this hard cover book to one million young people in schools, churches, clubs and detention centers as part of our “One Million Abolitionists” project,
  • Collaborating to develop the PROTECT human trafficking prevention education program in the State of California,
  • Creating a national Frederick Douglass curriculum for elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges,
  • Renaming the original bill that governs the nation’s anti-human trafficking work both domestically and abroad: “The Trafficking Victims Prevention & Protection Act,”
  • Further renaming the bill to honor him during his Bicentennial: “The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention & Protection Act.”

These are just a few examples of how Frederick Douglass has impacted and will continue to impact this country. We look forward to helping re-animate Douglass’s passion for equality and justice over the coming year leading up to his Bicentennial in 2018. We encourage the President to join in that effort.

In Freedom!

The Frederick Douglass family

All of the Dead Celebrity Spotlight posts for the month of February will be in honor of Black History Month. – JPiC

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