Yet, he was embarrassed and his reputation was tarnished when he apparently sought the company of a white prostitute.  As we stand on the threshold of the 21st century, what have we prospered since the paths of these giants crossed?  Should we ask ourselves:  Is the Supreme Court once again a dangerous place for people of color to seek justice?

     Douglass [1818-1895] was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey and was self educated on Maryland’s eastern shore. Initially he was critical of religion, government and politics, but his views broadened in later years (ca 1850).  He was seen as a reformer rather than a revolutionary. Pragmatic and opportunistic, he was among the most militant African Americans of his time. His activities as a journalist, orator and reformer allow him to be considered by many as the "Father of the Civil Rights Movement."  His latent intelligence was nurtured by his exposure as a young boy to the rudiments of education and the fundamentals of knowledge.  Rising above his previous enslavement by virtue of his ability to demonstrate the vacuousness of pseudoscientific racism, Douglass wrote the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) to convince abolitionist audiences in the North that he had indeed been a chattel slave.  And, unlike many emancipation narratives, Douglass’ pioneering work was actually written by Douglass and provided further evidence of the achievements African Americans could make if simply given the opportunity and the means.

     Douglass had a strong sense of racial pride and felt African Americans should unite to achieve economic development and racial advancement.  He advocated a "union of the oppressed for the sake of freedom" and was very active in the Colored Convention Movement among free Blacks.  Douglass was an avid exponent of vocational education, seeing the need for Blacks to  develop fully the skills needed to pursue economic prosperity.  Unlike Washington, Douglass would not ignore or minimize racial discrimination and confronted it head on.  He was perhaps the strongest voice condemning the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  He editorialized that the true remedy for the fugitive Slave Act was "a good revolver, a steady hand, and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap."  Its passage convinced Douglass of the importance of political activism.

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August 1999