Do You Know This Man?
On February 2, 2017, the then President of the United States said, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice." The media and critics of the President immediately jumped on the story to point out that it seemed he did not know that the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was dead or frankly, what he had even done to deserve the recognition during Black History Month.
I Want to Learn More
I knew if I pointed out someone's ignorance, I would have to point it out in myself too.
My goal is to give a summation of Douglasses life and add my thoughts to the heralding experiences this man had in order to gain his freedom.
Everything Changes Now
Frederick Douglass was believed to have been born in February of 1818, but no birth records were available to verify this. Especially babies that were born from a white father and a black mother. After his birth, he was separated from his slave mother and sent to live with his Grandmother on a plantation in Maryland, until he was eight years old. He was then sent to Baltimore to live as a house servant with the family of Hugh Auld. Luckily for Frederick, he was taught to read by Ms. Auld, even though it was against state law. She had seen how curious a child he was and she wanted to support him. Mr. Auld, however, declared that learning would make him unfit for slavery, but Frederick determined to continue his education secretly with the aid of schoolboys he met in the streets. This thrust for knowledge and equality would serve him well for the rest of his life.
A New Beginning
After several years of service, he was returned to the plantation as a field hand at 16. Douglass would continue to be excited by learning, and it would bring him to Baltimore as a ship caulker. Frederick did not want to live in bondage and recruited three other coworkers to try and escape in 1833, but their plan was discovered before they could get away. Five years later, however, he fled to New York City and then to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he worked as a laborer for three years. He was able to elude slave hunters by changing his surname to Douglass.
Through his adventures and yearning to be a free man, he made friends in the abolitionist community. These friends asked him if he would speak about his feelings and experiences under slavery at a Nantucket, Massachusetts, antislavery convention in 1841. He agreed and unknowingly set his life in a new direction.