Dr. Frederick Douglass did not run with a monolith of radicals.
He ran with them all, my fellow Douglassonians, from radical booksellers in Fells Point to radical abolitionists on the anti-slavery lecture circuit to radical Republicans, such as Congressman Robert Smalls, representing the first generation of national black legislators.
Dr. Douglass ran with radical clergy, radical journalists, radical suffragists, radical black nationalists, radical labor organizers, an international circle of radical educators to name just a handful of the thoroughgoing cyphers of militant thought and action the fugitive slave-scholar stepped through to.
Never having attended a day of school in his life, Dr. Douglass self-directed his education under the shade tree in the country and in muddy back-alley streets.
I question the sincerity and genuineness of institutions of higher learning seeking to confer awards on Dr. Douglass without an accurate accounting of his lifelong relationship with radical educators and the university for a half-century.
I kindly advise University of Rochester NOT follow the same tone-deaf path Washington College took honoring Dr. Douglass and failing to address his longstanding relationship with higher education.
This is a polite word that for W Street Douglassonians it matters not Yale, Harvard, Maryland State Archives, Maryland Historical Society, Washington College or University of Rochester.
The era of playtime honorifics for Dr. Douglass is over. Speak on Douglass and Higher Education. Let it be known. Once. And. For. All. Times.
Rochester, Nov. 23, 1868.
My dear sir:
I am just home from Boston and am obliged by your note of the 18th. I will write to Pres. Loomis to day and give him a date when I can deliver a lecture in Lewisburg.
I receive many invitations, some from responsible [indecipherable] and others not – and I feel more secure from imposition when I have assurances as you gave me of your friend Dr. Loomis.
Truly yours with gr [sic] respect
Rev. M. B. Anderson, D.D.
Pres. Rochester University
and orator & editor.
*Archivist / Librarian notation.
Original letter here.