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Frederick Douglass Knew That Racial Identity Is No Antidote to Racial Injustice


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Frederick Douglass, the greatest of all American abolitionists, possibly the greatest American champion of the cause of equal rights, was born 200 years ago in February 1818.

Perhaps the infant Douglass arrived on Feb. 14, as he liked to think, remembering a morning in his boyhood when his mother, enslaved as he was, walked miles to bring him a modest cake and called him her “little valentine.”

By this now-customary dating, we commemorate Douglass’ 200th birthday Feb. 14 as an opportune moment to reflect on his life, thought, and legacy.
Raised in what Booker T. Washington would call “the school of slavery,” Douglass was a battler.

“To live is to battle,” he believed, according to his writings. “Contest is itself ennobling.”

In particular, the age-old contest for liberty against the forces of tyranny. He presented his own physical battle, as a teen, against the cruel slave master Edward Covey as a great turning point of his life.
“I was a changed being after that fight,” Douglass wrote. “I was nothing before; I was a man now.”
He called his act of resistance to tyranny a “resurrection.”:snip:

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