Archive for November 25th, 2018

Yale Professor David Blight: Your legacy on Frederick Douglass biography and research is truly one of unprecedented dishonor and arrogance, not the advancement of scholarship. 

William Alston-El - Frederick Douglass wheat paste on lower MLK

Prof. Blight,

Thanks for your note. I’m glad to be in possession of your recent email. I’d appreciate if you had courtesy and decency to Cc: me when speaking of me.

I find your condescending dismissiveness of my critiques of your incomplete, perverted and racist interpretations of Dr. Frederick Douglass fascinating as my book, Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, is cited in your book 8 times. Call whoever you want to and update them. Tell all who have ears to hear I am unwavering in my assessment of you as a mediocre, at best, speculative historian and a pioneering, groundbreaking disgrace to the study of Douglass.

Your insinuations of infidelities by Dr. Douglass with “two European women” at Washington College before members of the family is an act of shame and dishonor to your profession and name that will long outlive you, sir. As well as frequently scandalizing Douglass’ personal life, your repeated comments about having fantasies of chaining Douglass to a chair, demonstrate that you, sir, are nothing less than a racist. Your comments are truly sickening.

The insinuations you make about the Honorable Frederick Douglass having untoward relationships with white women are similar to insinuations reportedly made against African-American men by lynch mobs in the post-Civil War South. A close friend of mine made that observation and was deeply troubled when I showed her your remarks. Community members in Anacostia find your speculations to be beyond dishonest and hurtful.

It is not just African-American men and women of all ages I speak with who find your personal comments deeply troubling but also well-respected older white men within the periphery research community of Douglass Studies have told me they believe you to be a disgrace to the profession. That you have done nothing to build and uplift a scholarly infrastructure around Douglass — such as our European friends are doing — during your tenure at Yale, like the late Prof. John Blassingame did, will be your lasting legacy. Your legacy is truly one of unprecedented dishonor and arrogance.

In recent months speaking on WAMUWSCL/WDSL and to local history groups / organizations / journalists about my research and work to uplift the history of Dr. Douglass in various communities – from the Eastern Shore to Rochester – I have largely refrained from speaking on your book and your work. Due to my numerous blog posts on your speculative and racist comments I have received a couple media inquiries. With respect to a number of persons and other dynamics I had decided not to pursue speaking to press about the dangers you present to not just the study of Douglass but the full and appropriate recognition of the Bicentennial across this country.

In coming months there will be lectures and presentations within the DC and Baltimore area specifically about the tradition of Douglassonian biographers — Holland, Gregory, Quarles, Foner and Preston — and that you violate this sacred tradition with your limited grasp of scholarship (you really just repeat the work of McFeely and Deidrich) and promotion of your own racist and troubling interpretations.

Call and update whoever you want to. Tell any and all, the author of a book cited 8 times in your book is unrelenting in advancing that you are a disgrace to the study of Douglass. Sadly, racist speculations, that you have been given platform within your field to herald, will be your lasting legacy, not the advancement of scholarship.

Editor’s Note:

This is the text of an email I sent to David Blight in response to an email he sent concerning me, without including me. In our continued transparent critique of Blight’s dangerous speculations we post our email in full.


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