Honoring Frederick Douglass

Honoring Black History Series: This month as a part of our commitment to honor black history, Access team members will be sharing about businesses, books, literature, stories, podcasts, films, songs, or pieces of art created by black authors, leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists that have impacted us.

Shared by Jameila Owens, Congregation Connections Team Member

Frederick Douglass was born as Frederick Augusts Washington Bailey, into slavery in 1818. He didn’t know his exact birthday, but according to the Library of Congress, he celebrated on February 14 in honor of his mother.  The last time he saw his mother she had brought him a heart shaped cake. He only saw his mother four or five times before her death, when he was seven. All Douglass knew about his father was that he wash white. HIs early years were spent with his grandparents, and he was moved to Baltimore when he was eight. He learned to read and write, and began learning about abolition. At the age of 12 read “The Columbian Orator” which is a collection of famous speeches, and one day becoming an incredible speaker himself. When he was fifteen he was hired out to a farm in the country and treated harshly in brutal conditions (under a man known as the “Slavebreaker”).  As he continued to learn, he began helping other slaves read and write as well, operated a secret Sunday School. After five years, he escaped, in 1838. With all that he knew of the word from his learning he could not continue to submit to a life of slavery. 

He settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, under his new name. It did not take long for him to gain fame as an abolitionist, author, and orator. In 1845 he published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. He wrote two more as well: My Bondage and My Freedom in 1855, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass in 1881. He also edited his own newspaper, The North Star, and traveled throughout the United States and UK, speaking about issues of justice and civil rights. During the Civil War he met with President Abraham Lincoln, and acted as a recruiter for African Americans to join the Union Army. Douglass continued to fight for the rights of African Americans throughout his life, and participated in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement. He passed away in 1985. 

Jameila shares that Frederick Douglass inspires her because, “No matter what he through he still helped others to read and write. He was showing others that you can do whatever you put your mind to, no matter what.” 


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