Yes, Fredrick Douglass was born a slave in 1818. But there was so much more to his life.

All of our American high school students should read Douglass’s autobiography. He was a tremendous spirit who refused to be humbled. He championed rights for African Americans but also for all people. He was a man of wisdom, a renowned orator, politician, and a man of peace.

How did he start out in bondage and end up counseling presidents and kings? Even when he was boy he was handsome and well spoken. He became a house servant. At the age of @ ten (Douglass never knew his actual age) he was loaned out to family. The mistress looked him in the eye and talked to him like a white person. She was beautiful and kind. Fredrick was infatuated with her.

The woman started teaching Fredrick to read and write. That is, until her husband found out. In front of the boy, the man lectured his wife that Blacks were too stupid to read, it was prohibited, it would do them no good. Inside Fredrick a flame ignited. The more the man insisted the more that flame became a blow torch. Fredrick determined that he would teach himself to read.

And he did, from scraps of advertisements, from sneaking into the woman’s room and reading the bible, from the posters on store fronts or from any book he could find. Fredrick learned to read so well he tutored some of the poor white boys in the neighborhood.

There is so much more to his story. This was a great man, who changed the world not with guns or vast wealth, but through his intellect and his good character. He was an essential confidant of Abraham Lincoln, maybe our greatest president.

Slogans or arguments or confrontation are not the way to understanding. Books are. Make sure you read this one.

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