Posts Tagged David Blight

Video: “An Evening with David Blight” at the Georgia Historical Society


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The Lincoln Group of DC Hits the Small Screen Once Again … “Lost History: Frederick Douglass and the Lincoln Family” to air on C-SPAN 3 American History TV -> Sunday, January 20 at 3:30 a.m. ET

The Lincoln Group of DC is happy to announce that the October 16, 2018 presentation by John Muller about Frederick Douglass was taped by C-SPAN and is now scheduled for airing. It will be aired on:

Sunday, January 20 at 3:30 a.m. ET on C-SPAN 3

American History TV

After its initial airing, the program will be available in C-SPAN’s Video Library the following day, where it can be viewed anytime. You can find it by going to and looking for the “Video Library” search box in the top third of the page. Enter John Muller’s name to find the video.

Be there live next time!  If you haven’t already, please sign up for the January 15, 2019 LGDC dinner meeting featuring Patrick Hickey, whose very timely talk is titled “The Devil vs. the Hummingbird: The Midnight Confrontation on Capitol Hill that Determined the Fate of a Presidency and Ensured the Survival of Constitutional Government.”

Sign up at:

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Mediocre speculations continue; Yale Professor David Blight demonstrates lack of rudimentary knowledge of sophisticated business mind and acumen of Dr. Frederick Douglass

We know the scholarship. We know Yale Professor David Blight does not truly know the scholarship. Professor Blight is little more than a reiteration of McFeely and Deidrich.

We know Blight’s limited bibliography of original Douglass research. We know his past and current positions within AHA, New York Historical Society, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition and elsewhere. We know there are others that question David Blight’s limited scholarship and troubled interpretations.

We know Blight’s White Man Lies. We know his perverted racist fantasies. We know without a happenstance introduction to Douglass family scrapbooks within the collection of Dr. Walter O. Evans Professor Blight would have not written his deeply flawed, although widely praised, book on Dr. Douglass.

We know when applied pressure to exhaust his scholastic understanding of Dr. Douglass Blight woefully tells on himself, betraying an incredible lack of depth and scope of understanding.

In the course of “agitating” Washington College earlier this year Professor Blight was asked to answer a simple question. Blight demonstrated he doesn’t know diddley about Dr. Douglass and The University yet that didn’t stop Washington College from providing him a stage for his racism. Blight was paid to tell “White Man Lies” then and continues to be paid to lie.

Blight has no clue. He has done nothing to bring up the next generation of Douglass scholars. He has established no journal. No conference. For years he has held summer workshops to communicate his “White Man Lies” and twisted perversions, such as insinuations on the symbolism and meaning of the “Growlery” on Cedar Hill, to impressionable educators.

Blight is all sizzle, no steak. Blight is all rhetoric, no scholarship.

The selfish, manipulative, dishonest and petty Blight is a disgrace to Master Educator William Alston-El who instructed me to not allow anyone to lie on Dr. Douglass.

Blight is not a Douglass Scholar. Blight is just a dude with some buzz-fuzz words who has been around for a couple decades.

Our dear professor may be regarded as an educator at Yale but within the community of Old Anacostia Blight is known as someone who has traveled the world spreading lies about Dr. Douglass.

W Street Douglassonians do not take kindly to anyone disrespecting Dr. Douglass.

Tell the truth to the world. Blight tells lies to the world.


In an interview with “Just The Right Book Podcast” Blight remarks:

He never earned a dime from 1841 until 1877 any other way than with voice and pen. How many people can do that? Now he had some help, too, from his British friends …

Not true. Documents and scholarship does not support this assertion. Blight has neither documents nor scholarship despite studying Dr. Douglass across four decades. This is the best he can do?

Although Blight uses the above misstatement to laud Dr. Douglass — and qualifies it somewhat — it is nonetheless an example of Blight’s glaring incomplete understanding of Dr. Douglass and the respective field of scholarship. Although heralded for 30 years as an “expert” in the field of Douglass Studies, Blight’s expertise is limited and limiting.

In Rochester and Washington City Dr. Douglass invested in real estate. I’ve seen the records in DC folios and libers. They exist. Street historians, community historians, local historians and professionals historians and educators know.

For example, I suggest reading journalist-historian Sally Parker’s wonderful article, “Preserving Family Memories by Remembering an Icon,” in the Spring 2018 edition of the New York Archives which discusses some of Dr. Douglass’ Rochester real estate dealings:


In Blight’s talks, which I have studied — since, you know, he is an alleged Douglass expert and he cites my book 8 times — he has yet to mention just one time the groundbreaking scholarship, If I Survive by Prof. Celeste-Marie Bernier. If I Survive includes select materials of the Walter O. Evans Collection.

As evidence of Blight’s absence of integrity he has yet to mention Prof. Bernier’s book once. The paperback edition of If I Survive is priced at $20 in a deliberate and calculated effort to reach as many students of Douglass, primary source-bound educators, community and street historians and those who carry history with honor and integrity. Being that Blight has no honor and no integrity he fails at every turn to mention and acknowledge this groundbreaking scholarship.


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Video: David W. Blight speaks about “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” @ Politics Prose


Editor’s Note:

Although I do not budge from my position that Prof. Blight is a disgrace of a man and a dishonor to the Douglassonian scholarly tradition I encourage folks to study his work. Study his work closely. If he is the authority he thinks himself to be and others allege him to be listen to him.

Dr. Douglass needs scholarly attention. Decades of lies will take decades of truths to correct.



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Book Talk: David W. Blight & Ta-Nehisi Coates discuss Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Yale University, December 6, 2018 – 4:30pm to 6:30pm)

The Gilder Lehrman Center (GLC) for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale will host a book conversation between David W. Blight, GLC Director and Class of 1954 Professor of American History, and author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The program celebrates the release of Blight’s new biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” (Simon and Schuster, 2018).

The talk is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, at the Yale University Art Gallery, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Lecture Hall, 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut.

Book sales begin at 4:30pm and the talk begins at 5:00pm. Blight and Coates will discuss the book within the context of Frederick Douglass’s development as a thinker, activist, and political figure. Courtesy of Atticus Bookstore and Café, books by both authors will be available for sale. Professor Blight will be available to sign books after the talk.

David W. BlightBlight’s book is the definitive biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery to become the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. Annette Gordon-Reed, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and Professor of History at Harvard University, describes the book as a “vibrant and convincing portrait of a towering figure who was also, as Blight says, ‘thoroughly and beautifully human.’”

The writing of the book was prompted by Blight’s lifetime interest in Douglass along with access to the private archives of Walter O. Evans. The materials in the Evans collection, Blight writes, allowed him to explore the “fascinating and complicated life” of the older Douglass, from the period of Reconstruction through his death in 1895. As the first in-depth biography of Douglass published since 1991, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” is “the fullest account ever written of the last third of Douglass’s complex and epic life,” Blight says.

Ta-Nehisi CoatesTa-Nehisi Coates is a distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He is the author of the bestselling books “The Beautiful Struggle,” “We Were Eight Years in Power,” and “Between the World and Me,” which won the National Book Award in 2015. Coates is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is also the author of the Marvel Comics “The Black Panther” and “Captain America.”

This program also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Gilder Lehrman Center. The mission of the Gilder Lehrman Center is to explore the history and legacies of slavery across all borders and all times. The Center promotes scholarship and public education focused on the history and afterlives of chattel slavery in the Americas, global slavery, resistance to enslavement, abolitionist social movements, and modern slavery and human trafficking.



The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, the History Department at Yale, and the Yale University Art Gallery celebrate the release of David W. Blight’s new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster 2018). Join us for a stimulating conversation in the Yale University Art Gallery’s lecture hall. Within the context of Frederick Douglass’s development as a thinker, activist, and political figure, Professor Blight (Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center) will discuss the book with author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Courtesy of Atticus Bookstore and Café, both authors’ books will be available for sale at the end of the program. Professor Blight will be available to sign copies of his book.

For their generous support of this program, the Gilder Lehrman Center thanks the Belonging at Yale initiative of the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life, the Yale University Art Gallery, and Atticus Bookstore and Café.

This program is free and open to the public.

A live stream feed of this event will be available at:

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Rochester Institute of Technology sponsors two programs in Rochester (December 3 & 4)

Image result for rochester institute of technologyDavid Blight, a renowned historian whose new book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, has been published to glowing reviews, will be in Rochester Dec. 3 and 4 for two engagements co-sponsored by RIT.

David Blight, a renowned historian whose new book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, has been published to glowing reviews, will be in Rochester Dec. 3 and 4 for two engagements co-sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology.

Blight will be the featured speaker at “Prophet of Freedom: Frederick Douglass in Word and Song,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 Plymouth Ave., Rochester.

The event, co-sponsored by the University of Rochester, also includes musical performances.

It is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged.

Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University, wrote his book after a decade of research on Douglass—who spent much of his life in Rochester and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

The book, which reviewers have called “monumental,” “moving” and “brilliant,” includes new insights from a private collection of letters on the Douglass family. Blight says Douglass was not only among the most famous Americans of the 19th century, but one of the nation’s most original and enduring voices.

The event at Hochstein will pay special attention to Rochester’s importance in Douglass’s life. The program will take place on the 171st anniversary of the inaugural edition of Frederick Douglass’s first newspaper, The North Star, which he published on Dec. 3, 1847, soon after arriving in Rochester. Blight’s lecture will occur in the same venue where Douglass’s funeral was held in 1895, when it was Central Presbyterian Church.

Blight will sign copies of his book after the presentation. RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection has created a bookplate inspired by Douglass’s The North Star newspaper and printed on an iron hand press. The bookplate image will be inserted in copies of Blight’s books.

The program will also feature special musical performances, including a rendition of “Farewell Song of Frederick Douglass,” a rare piece of sheet music recently acquired by the University of Rochester. Originally published in 1847 in Great Britain, where Douglass fled to avoid re-enslavement after publishing his first autobiography, the song depicts Douglass as a heroic freedom fighter.

A spiritual invocation and benediction will be offered by three members of the Rochester clergy—Rev. Julius Jackson, Muhammad Shafiq and Rabbi Peter Stein—and several spirituals will be performed by Thomas Warfield, director of dance at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

“We are thrilled to co-sponsor this event with the University of Rochester and bring David Blight to Frederick Douglass’s longtime home,” said Richard Newman, a history professor at RIT.

“This exciting program will allow the entire city to more deeply reflect on the life and legacy of Douglass during the bicentennial of his birth,” said Jessica Lacher-Feldman, assistant dean and the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation at UR.

On Dec. 4, Blight will join Kenneth Morris Jr., a direct descendant of Douglass, at a program on RIT’s campus, “American Diversity & Frederick Douglass: Lessons from the Prophet of Freedom,” from 10 a.m. to noon in Wegmans Theater in the MAGIC Spell Studios Building at RIT.

It is free, but registration is required.

The first hour will feature commentary by Robert Benz, co-founder and executive vice-president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, an advocacy organization dedicated to community outreach; Carvin Eison, project director for Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee; and Olivia Kim, adjunct professor in RIT’s School of Art and Design, who was commissioned to produce 13 statues of Douglass during the city’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial this year. The second hour will feature a dialogue between Blight and Morris on the life of Douglass.

Blight will sign books immediately after the discussion, which is sponsored by RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, Department of History, Faculty Career Development in the Innovative Learning Institute, The Caroline Werner Gannett Chair in Digital Humanities, the School of Individualized Study, and the Center for Statesmanship, Law and Liberty.

Full story HERE!


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History News Network: Yale’s David Blight explains why he was drawn to Frederick Douglass

A Conversation with David Blight, author of FREDERICK DOUGLASS

Q. You worked on this book for ten years, but first began researching Douglass as a PhD student. What initially inspired you to study Douglass? Did you always plan to write a biography of Douglass?   

After that first book in the late 1980s, and over time, I edited new editions of Douglass’s first and second autobiographies, a new edition of the Columbian Orator(the book that changed Douglass’s life as a slave), and I had written a number of essays on the former slave.  But I did not really intend to write a full biography until I encountered the Evans collection in Savannah.  Only then did I decide to attempt a full life of Douglass.  I was initially inspired to study Douglass in graduate school in the early 1980s because I wanted to research and write about abolitionists and the coming of the Civil War.  I especially wanted to probe the stories of black abolitionists. Douglass was the greatest perhaps of all abolitionists, and I was especially drawn to the famous orator and writer’s masterful use of words.  The research for this biography took me many places and to many archives in the US and the UK.  The places in Douglass’s life are very important to his biography.

Q. Describe the private collection of Douglass papers and material that you had access to during your research. How did you come upon this collection? 

In 2008 I first encountered the private collection of Douglass manuscripts owned by Walter O. Evans while on a lecture trip to Savannah, GA. The material was less discovered than it was purchased over time from other collectors.  I was the first Douglass scholar to extensively consult this collection and my book is the first full biography ever to use the collection.

The collection consists of ten or so Douglass family scrapbooks assembled largely by Douglass’s sons, Lewis, Frederick Jr., and Charles; many family letters and other documents; photographs; as well as handwritten and typescript versions of many speeches.  The collection especially contains thousands of newspaper clippings from the final third of Douglass’s life, from the 1860s to the 1890s.  I spent many weeks over the past nine years doing research on the Evans’s dining room table as their guest. It was my great luck to encounter Walter and his collection when I did.  It is one of those stories we historians dream about, and a story about the relationships that are possible between astute and deeply knowledgeable collectors and the scholars who depend upon them.

Q. What insights did you glean from your research using the Evans collection that you had not previously known about Douglass? 

The Evans collection allowed me unprecedented access to the Douglass of the last thirty years of his life, the 1860s to 1890s.  It opened worlds we had not yet seen before about his family relationships, his back-breaking and nearly endless lecture tours into old age, his place and role as the leader of black America in Washington DC, his finances revealed in the account books, his roles as Marshal of DC and Recorder of Deeds of DC, his role and place as a symbolic leader, his image out across the land where he travelled, his lecture tours in the deep South about which we knew almost nothing before, his hugely controversial marriage to second wife, Helen Pitts.  The Evans collection above all gave me new insights into the extraordinary trajectory of Douglass’s life—the former slave born in a backwater of the South who rises to be the most famous abolitionist in America, who lives to see his cause triumphant in the Civil War, but then also lives long enough (another 30 years) to see much of that victory betrayed and eclipsed. Above all the Evans collection makes possible the fullest critical treatment of the older and aging Douglass ever attempted and I have made this story a primary thread of the book.

Q. Can you discuss the tension the aging Douglass experienced as he made the transition from radical outsider to political insider and symbolic figure of great fame? 

Few radical reformers in history live to see their causes triumph, and then also live long enough to become a political insider within the government or a system they had fought to overthrow, destroy, and reinvent.  Nelson Mandela comes to mind.  Vaclav Havel and many other Eastern European leaders after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall also come to mind.  Some of America’s major Civil Rights leaders who later became major office holders also are good examples.  Douglass is the greatest example of this phenomenon in the 19th century.  In his case this meant becoming a loyal advocate of the Republican Party for thirty years as it decisively changed from the party of emancipation and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the party of big business and the retreat from the egalitarian transformations of Reconstruction.  Douglass became an office holder (by appointment, not election), he became often a symbol as much as an actual political leader. Douglass always had to live up to expectations of performing as the black leader, the voice of the freedpeople, the former slave who had to prove the capacities of black people.  But above all Douglass also became in the final thirty years of his life, 1865-1895, a patriarch of a huge extended family of three sons, one daughter, and twenty-one grandchildren.  Along with his two wives over time, these kinfolk all became to one degree or another financially dependent on Douglass. Living in Washington, his family emerged as a kind of black first family in the District of Columbia press. Douglass, therefore, lived with an acute problem of “fame,” in all its positive and negative aspects.

Q. Douglass was a man of contradictions, and in the book you address how Douglass has become a figure adopted by all elements of the political spectrum—even current Republicans, who have claimed Douglass as one of their own. Why do you think that is? 

Like all great writers and leaders who live a long time, Douglass was a person embodying contradictions.  He possessed a long love/hate relationship with America.  He became a radical patriot who also levied some of the most withering attacks on American racism, hypocrisy, and craven defense of slavery and states’ rights.  He could be an enormously compassionate man toward all people undergoing oppression and indignity, but he also during the war practiced a vicious brand of war propaganda aimed at the destruction not only of the Confederacy but of white Southerners themselves.  Douglass was a vehement advocate of the natural rights tradition, of human equality, and of aggressive use of interventionist, activist government. But he was at the same time a persistent voice of black self-reliance, of his people’s efforts to make their own way in the world, before and after emancipation.  Douglass often argued that the federal government should let black folk alone, but always give them at the same time fair play and a fair chance. Unfortunately, modern-day conservatives have appropriated Douglass’s advocacy of self-help, claimed him as a voice of limited government (nothing could be more wrong), and therefore all but erased his radical abolitionism, his fierce fight for equality, as they stress how Douglass was a “Republican.”  Douglass was a member of a Republican Party decidedly different, with a very different history, especially about race, from the Republican Party that exists today and has frankly existed now for several generations.  Douglass is now one of the major figures of American history that various parts of our political spectrum try to claim for their own causes and uses. This usually says much more about the people or groups appropriating Douglass than about Douglass himself.

Q. How would you characterize Douglass’s legacy today? What lessons could we all—political leaders, cultural leaders, and active citizens—take from his life and work?  

Douglass delivers many legacies to us today in the 21st century, both from the trajectory of his life and from his ideas and writings.  He is first one of the best examples ever of a person who led by language, a genius with words whose oratory and writing provide the primary reasons we know him.  Second, Douglass delivered over and over a critique of America as a slave society that had to be dismembered and destroyed before being re-created around the idea of human equality.  Third, Douglass’s writings, especially in the autobiographies, constitute the most compelling descriptions and analysis of the nature and meaning of American slavery crafted by any American.  Fourth, on a personal level, for anyone who has ever experienced despair, captivity, oppression in many forms, displacement, isolation of the soul, or legal and political denial, Douglass’s story, and his writings, offer a deep well of hope and inspiration.  Fifth, Douglass might have given up on the cause of abolition, of emancipation, of US victory in the Civil War, or of the endurance of the triumphs for black rights in Reconstruction.  But he never truly gave up.  That alone gives his life and thought lasting use and significance.  Sixth, Douglass was a great editor, writer, speaker.  He was an organizer, a creator of and believer in social protest movements.  All who seek social and political change or transformation do well to examine Douglass’s example.  Seventh, Douglass remains a classic model of political pragmatism grown out of radicalism. His story shows us over and again that all revolutions will lead to counter-revolutions.  A true reformer has to keep a long view of history, and try to fashion the most effective and not always the most radical method of change. Eighth, Douglass not only lived a heroic life in his escape from slavery and the remaking of himself in freedom; he became a major thinker – about the nature of history, about the natural rights tradition, about political and constitutional philosophy, about the elements of morality in human nature.  Ninth, Douglass has a great deal to tell us eternally about what it means to be an American, and about how the issue and history of race stands at the center of that question.  And tenth and finally, but not least, Douglass’s world view, sense of history, and his gripping talent for storytelling rested deeply in his reading and use of the Bible, especially the Old Testament.  Just why Americans in the nineteenth century were so steeped in Biblical story and metaphor is beautifully and powerfully on display in Douglass life and work.

Q. You have spent over thirty years of your life studying Douglass. If you had the chance to sit down with Douglass, what is the one thing you would want to know?  

There are a thousand questions I would want to ask Douglass if I had him in a room.  But if I only get one it would be something like: How, sir, would you characterize the meaning and lasting significance of the Civil War in your life and that of your entire family?  In this question I would hope to keep him talking about the many possible meanings he might raise.


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