Sunday, March 6, 2016

Insights from Frederick Douglass

Until it shall be safe to leave the lamb in the hold of the lion, the laborer in the power of the capitalist, the poor in the hands of the rich, it will not be safe to leave a newly emancipated people completely in the power of their former masters, especially when such masters have not ceased to be such from enlightened moral convictions but by irresistible force.
From: Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, p.464. ©1892

“What shall I do?” was the question that Frederick Douglass asked himself after the civil war had put an end to slavery. He was 48 years old and had escaped from slavery 27 years previous. The first three of those years he had worked as a labourer, but for the last 24 his profession was an abolitionist who had put all of his effort into ending slavery. Now that slavery had come to a sudden end, his goal was achieved, yet the joy of victory was saddened by uncertainty of his future. However, that uncertainty was short lived. He had earned a wage of $450 dollars a year as an abolitionist. Now he was being offered $50, $100, and even $200 for a single speaking engagement.