A great thinker* once said that Frederick Douglass is “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more”. I was so inspired by this, I decided to read Frederick Douglass’ story in his own words.
Plus I found this book at a used-book table at our local Greek festival and couldn’t pass it up.
Douglass wrote a clear-eyed description of his life from his earliest memories to his life after escaping slavery. He knew his mother very little, as children were separated from their parents very early on. When his mother was able to see him, she had to walk miles after working all day and would be there only to sleep before getting up to walk back to her work. When she died he was not much affected, having not seen her for years. He described similar relationships with siblings- he knew of their existence and blood relationship, but had no personal relationship because of the whims of the slavers. Douglass recounted the very minimal kindnesses offered to a slave and the many indignities they were forced to endure. When one woman endeavored to teach him to read, but then changed her mind and forbade him to learn, it set him on a path to learn by any means possible. In turn, he taught as many slaves to read and write as he could. In this book, he was secretive about the means he used to escape so as not to endanger the people who helped him nor prevent other slaves from escaping.
I made it through all of my formal education- 13 years of public school and then 8 years beyond- without having read this book. I’m glad I got to it now.
*”Great thinker” here means “absolute trash person”