Frederick Douglass (1818?-1895) was the top Black American leader of the 1800s. He was arguably the greatest public speaker of the English-speaking world in a time when public speaking was hugely important – and he spoke up for Blacks! He thundered against the injustices of American society, from slavery to racial inequality to lynching. He did not equivocate, he did not excuse. He did not soften his words to comfort the comfortable.
As a slave in Maryland, his master did not want him to learn how to read or write – so he knew it must be a good thing! He learned how in secret. In 1838 he ran away, along the Underground Railroad. He would later become a station master, helping slaves escape to Canada.
In the 1840s he became the leading Black voice of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. Even though the…
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