Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass escaped slavery to lead a movement that shook the world

He was raised by his grandmother.
She had the job of caring for the slave children.
When he was six years old,
he was forced to live on the plantation.

One day when he was hungry
his mother gave him food.
But she lived twelve miles away, and he rarely saw her.
After all, she was also a slave.

The slave owner Mr. Anthony
told Esther not to see Ned Roberts.
But the couple could not be kept apart.
Young Frederick saw Esther tied-up and whipped.

Old Barney took good care of the horses.
Old Colonel Lloyd said the horse’s mane did not lie straight.
The Colonel said “down on your knees.”
Old Barney received thirty lashes.

Young Frederick was sent to Baltimore.
Miss Sophia started to teach him to read.
Her husband forbid it.
After all, the law said slaves shall not read.

But Frederick broke the law and learned to read.
He discovered that the only reason to live was to be free.
The master was not satisfied with young Frederick.
He was sent to the slave breaker Covey.

Frederick worked until he passed out.
Covey kicked him in the head,
and demanded that the slave return to work.
Frederick learned to fight back.

Escape to freedom and discrimination.
Mr Douglass is paid as a worker for the first time.
But working a job was not enough,
The core of his existence was to abolish slavery forever.

Mr. Douglass spoke so well,
and they didn’t believe he had been a slave.
To prove his background was true,
he wrote an autobiography.

Because freedom for a slave was against the law,
Mr. Douglass became a fugitive and fled to England.
There, he was warmly welcomed,
and the British abolitionists purchased his freedom.

Mr. Douglass continued to dedicate himself
to the abolition of slavery.
He gave speeches, wrote a newspaper,
and defended himself against those who didn’t like his message.

The day came when the people of the United States
refused to continue being ruled by slave owners.
The slave owners refused to give up their power,
and their army attacked Fort Sumpter.

Mr. Douglass understood that
this was a war for the abolition of slavery.
He supported the union army,
and asked President Lincoln to allow Black people to fight.

Lincoln initially refused,
but later argued that
the war could only be won
with the aid of African Americans.

They charged the Confederate lines
knowing this meant almost certain death or mutilation.
Because no one enjoys
being told what to do by a slave owner.

The slave owners were defeated,
and lost all power in the United States.
The new rulers didn’t purchase slaves,
but paid for labor by the hour.

They made more profits
by paying Black people less.
Those who lynched African Americans,
became allies to the people with money and power.

But now everyone in the United States
was supposed to have certain rights.
And although many of these rights
were not respected, chattel slavery was abolished.

And Frederick Douglass said,
“The struggle may be a moral one,
or it may be a physical one,
and it may be both moral and physical,
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to
and you have found out the exact measure
of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,
and these will continue
till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”[1]

[1]The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II, P. 104

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