Frederick Douglass [Saturday, Nov. 20, 2004, 3:39 pm]
Of all the historical figures that I admire, a few former American slaves rank right near the top. I read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass for my history class this semester, and thought it was an amazing story. One thing in particular that amazed me was his use of wit. Someone who had been beaten, hated, and discrimminated against all his life still had a sense of humor, as evidenced in this quote from one of his speeches:
"I appear before the immense assembly this evening as a thief and a robber. I stole this head, these limbs, this body from my master, and ran off with them."
Frederick Douglass's utter lack of angst is amazing too. You'd think that after all he had been through in his life, he would be somewhat bitter and hardened by it. But I believe his strong character and intellect were evidenced by the fact that he didn't whine about his past. Not once in his book did I catch even a hint of anything attempting to draw pity for himself. And if anyone alive in "Convenience-land" America today has a legitimate reason to complain about anything, Frederick Douglass had a million more. And yet he didn't do it. He chose to rise above his circumstances, and showed how superior he really was to those who had treated him so badly.
I also like the fact that he showed his slave owners their Christian hypocrisy. Rather than attacking Christianity itself, Frederick Douglass realized that the problem lay in the people, not the doctrine, and used their own Bible - the book they were supposedly living by - to reveal their errors. He was clearly angry at times, and justifiably so, but he chose to use logic and reason to show people their hypocrisy and fallacies, rather than resorting to name-calling and mindless babble.
Those are some of the reasons why I admire him so much. He is a hero for anyone who has been mistreated, because he showed that no one has to allow themselves to be tied down by their circumstances or the ignorance of others. Some people just couldn’t believe that a black man could possibly be intellectual, so Douglass proved them wrong, and did a magnificent job of it.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009