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He became a living response to the arguments of slaveholders who claimed that slaves do not have enough intelligence to become independent American citizens.Many residents of the northern states of the USA could not even believe that such a great orator as Frederick could be a slave.
Born a slave, he was doomed to experience the hardships of life and the suffering of many, but he found the strength and courage to fight for their rights and for improving the lives of others, infringed rights.
Douglas antislavery activities coincided with the period in United States history, when the issue was at the peak of urgency, when the President understood the need for the abolition of slavery in the country.
They have told me that they learned about "context clues" from previous teachers. As a child Douglass overhears his master, Hugh Auld, tell the naively benevolent Sophia to stop teaching him to read: "A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master — to do as he is told to do," Auld tells her. Without sounding overly prejudicial, it is difficult to conceive of much that would fundamentally threaten their defensive sense of self-assurance, which is often no such thing.
"Learning would the best nigger in the world" and "would forever unfit him to be a slave." This is the moment of enlightenment for Douglass as he discovers through serendipity and keen discernment what he had always pondered: "to wit, the white man's power to enslave the black man." He resolves to learn to read, reasoning that compulsory ignorance is the tool that keeps him and his fellow slaves in bondage. What I want to say here is that I am not always sure what I would like to free my students I’m concerned with.
In the beginning of the Civil War, Douglass put forward the slogan of immediate emancipation of the slaves, took part in the formation of Negro regiments, was an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln (“9 Interesting Facts About Frederick Douglass”, 2013).
In the post-war reconstruction period, he fought for the provision of full civil rights to slaves, advocated the democratization of the political life of the United States, for granting voting rights to women.
I want to be able to talk to them in 10 years about Frederick Douglass, and if they aren’t into Frederick Douglass I would wish that they have a passion about something, as I think many of them will.
Most important, my foremost desire is for them to have the tools to express their passion, whatever that passion may be.
"It is hard to have a southern overseer," Douglass’s contemporary, Henry David Thoreau, wrote in "it is worse to have a northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself." Although Thoreau refers to physical labor that fails the test of self-enlightenment, his larger point applies to my students who, too, seem explicitly bent upon achieving their own contemporary version of metaphysical enslavement. Complicating my bewilderment is that I have no transgenerational ax to grind, knowing as I do that the cry of English professors over their students' supposed failings is pretty standard fare for well over a century at least, and anyway, the topic simply isn’t that interesting before the third beer.
Both Douglass and Thoreau would recognize and lament this mentality, and walk away confused by the disheartening juxtaposition of material affluence and imaginative poverty. It bears asking, though, what such students might be enslaved to, or by. So here's what I want, in part: I want my students to become interesting people — that is, more interesting than they already are.