Posts Tagged journalists

Foreign Press comes through el barrio de Anacostia to show love to señor Douglass! La Vanguardia: “El esclavo que cumplió 200 años: Estados Unidos celebra el bicentenario del carismático líder abolicionista negro Frederick Douglass”

LaVanguardia _ el barrio de Anacostia _ FD 200th - 2018El nombre del señor Frederick Douglass toca las campanas de un vecindario a otro en todo el país. Desde Anacostia hasta Barcelona, ​​el mundo reconoce la importancia de Douglass para los pueblos amantes de la libertad en todas partes.

Agradecemos a la señorita Beatriz Navarro del periódico La Vanguardia por su generoso informe sobre el cumpleaños número dos centenario del abolicionista reconocido internacionalmente y padre fundador del Movimiento por los Derechos Civiles de los Estados Unidos.

United States celebrates the bicentennial of the charismatic black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass

When Frederick August Washington Bailey came into the world, no one expected one day to celebrate his birthday. “Most of the slaves know as little of their age as the horses of theirs,” he would write years later in his autobiography. Two hundred years later, the United States pays tribute to one of its most important leaders, a slave who escaped his destiny to become a charismatic abolitionist leader, writer, speaker and civil rights activist and women in particular. He was photographed more than President Abraham Lincoln himself.

Reborn as Frederick Douglass, he chose his date of birth on February 14, because his mother, the few times he saw him, told him it was “his Valentine.” He was born a slave in Maryland in 1818 and raised with his maternal grandmother. At the age of eight, he was taken to work on a plantation and, later, in a shipyard in Baltimore, where he learned to read and write on his own. At age 20, he managed to escape using the papers of a black sailor to get on a train and go north, an adventure that was for a long time a secret so as not to harm those who helped him. His flight was due “more to good luck than to bravery,” he explained years later.

He adopted the surname Douglass, married a freed slave in New York, and settled in Massachusetts. There he began to frequent the circuit of abolitionist politicians, whom he impressed with his story of the horrors of slavery and his oratory skills. In 1845 he published the first of his three autobiographies, a best seller that made him fear being caught. He took refuge in England and Ireland, where he dealt with Daniel O’Connell, until two years later some followers bought his freedom for 150 pounds and returned to the US. as a free man.

Douglass immediately understood the power of the image and posed frequently for portraits, in which he presented himself as whites, elegantly dressed and in an attitude of work. It retains more original images of him than Lincoln, which has earned him the title of “most photographed American of the nineteenth century.” He traveled throughout the country, directed a newspaper that he used as a platform for his ideas and pressured Lincoln to allow blacks to fight for the Union in the civil war. After the abolition of slavery, he dedicated himself to “the most difficult battle,” the struggle for equal rights.

Between 1871 and 1891, he held various public offices, including minister for Haiti (he was the first African-American confirmed for an official appointment by the Senate). In 1876 he became marshal of Washington DC (head of the local police) and settled in the neighborhood of Anacostia, today one of the poorest. The house, Cedar Hill, became a hotbed of political activity. Today a Douglass double greets visitors at the door who come to know the place where the iconic leader ended his days in 1895, married in second marriage with a white one.

Donald Trump disconcerted the country a few months ago by talking about Douglass as if he were alive: “It is an example of someone who has done an amazing job and who is being recognized more and more,” he said. Trump’s blunder is “representative of the lack of general knowledge of the country about the significance of this historical figure,” says John Muller,” author of a biography of Douglass (The Lion of Anacostia),”but it is welcome if it helps that the people pay more attention.” The bicentennial, he says, has a special meaning in the current political context but “it makes no sense to think about what Douglass would have thought or said.”

Ascribed to the Republicans, no one disputes his legacy but his figure is sometimes the object of a dispute between conservatives and democrats, who disagree about how religious or patriotic he might be, given his sharp criticisms of the country, especially before the abolition of slavery. “As a people, Americans know very well all the facts that favor them,” he said in 1852. Some consider this a national trait, perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact that everything that enriches his reputation and is easy to find, will be found by the Americans.”

Editor’s Note:

Translation provided by Google Translate. Original article in Spanish available HERE!


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“Douglass’ college ties extended far and wide,” Letter to the Editor of the Star Democrat, February 1, 2018 [Paper of Record of Maryland’s Eastern Shore]

Letter to the Editor, Star Democrat, Feb. 1, 2018. Copyright of fact strictly enforced by the power of the 1st Amendment.

I told Washington College it’s not a game out here.

As an adolescent I ran with great-great grandsons of runaway fugitive slave-scholars. As a young Douglassonian I studied the work of GATH and Dickson J. Preston, two classic role models in the advanced Classics of Douglassoniana Studies.

I thank old school journalists and the editors and staff of the Star Democrat for understanding that if we don’t have accuracy in our reporting we have nothing.

It’s about respecting Fred.

He is a native son of your soil and your pork. The mental and physical muscles Douglass stretched to escape slavery were first flexed on the Eastern Shore.

You understand.

Washington College and speculative historian David Blight do not.

[WC press release and “belief” not factually corrected as of 12 noon, February 1, 2018.]


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Colored Press Convention meets at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church w/ Frederick Douglass, William Calvin Chase, Ferdinand Barnett, T. Thomas Fortune, Richard T. Greener and others attend

Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church at 1705 15th Street NW in Washington, D.C., circa 1899. The church was razed in the mid-20th Century. Library of Congress. 

If we are to celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Bicentennial I advance that we recognize the full measure of his life. Yes, he’s is known as a runaway slave who rose to advise more than a half-dozen United States Presidents but let us not be so limited in our understanding of Douglass. Lest us not forgot the lesser-known Douglass, such as editor Douglass.

Ranger Nate Johnson at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site knows and has presented on Douglass as a journalist and an editor.

In our ongoing research on Douglass, we are continuously interested in his unsung and largely unknown role as Editor Emeritus of the Colored Press (today known as the Black Press).

One small item we found in a June 1882 edition of the National Republican lists Douglass in attendance of the second day of proceedings for the Colored Press Convention at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, near 15th and R Streets NW. This was Rev. Grimke’s home church.

Other journalists attending were T. Thomas Fortune, Benjamin T. Tanner (founder of the Christian Recorder), Ferdinand L. Barnett, William C. Chase of the Washington Bee, W. A. Pledger of Atlanta and Richard T. Greener, a past editor and contributor to the New National Era.

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Frederick Douglass letter for sale, $8,995 [FD to Magnus L. Robinson, 20 July, 1888]

FD to Magnus L Robinson _ 7.20.1888Occasionally original Douglass documents turn up on Ebay and other online auction sites. This letter is for sale for $8,995.00.

Here’s the description:

Autograph Letter Signed (ALS), “Fredk. Douglass,” one page on Cedar Hill letterhead, 5” x 8”, July 20, 1888. Letter to Magnus L. Robinson, an African-American journalist and newspaper editor.

In full: “I am very sorry that I cannot serve you. I have already taken an interest in the People’s Advocate and promised to press its claims upon the National Republican Committee otherwise I would be glad to serve the National Republican Leader.” In Fine condition, with uniform toning. Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA.

A month prior to writing this letter, Douglass attended the Republican National Convention to speak out in support of John Sherman for the presidency. With his primary focus on a strong civil rights platform, he did ultimately campaign for nominee Benjamin Harrison, after the latter supported an item calling for federal protection of black citizens’ voting rights. Interestingly, Douglass himself received a single vote for the presidential nomination while at the Convention—the first African-American to earn the distinction. Also of note are the two prominent African-American newspapers that Douglas mentions in this letter: Robinson’s The National Leader and John W. Cromwell’s The People’s Advocate. Having just been founded in January, Robinson’s paper was still getting off the ground, certainly his reason for reaching out to Douglass for support. A fantastic letter referring to the 1888 Republican National Convention, with significant content regarding the civil rights movement and the voice of the African-American community.

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Douglass receives letter from C H J Taylor; “God made us men before either of us joined a political party,”

C.H.J._Taylor_photoApril 8th, 1894

My Good friend:

When can I have an interview with you, and where? Africa must not be lost and you can save that Continent. “God made us men before either of us joined a political party.”

In strict confidence I am your sincere friend,

C H J Taylor

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William Calvin Chase of the Washington Bee writes to Frederick Douglass [Jan. 6, 1888]

Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress

Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress

Immediately drop what you are doing and stop with the “No struggle, no progress,” cliched sloganeering of Frederick Douglass. Study Douglass. Research Douglass. Know who he ran with and knocked heads with. Stop disgracing his lived legacy by reducing his more than half-century worth of grinding to a singular expression much like Dr. King and “I have a Dream…”

Get up on game. Know the public and private battles of “Old Man Eloquent” and William Calvin Chase.

If I hear one more random person say, “As Frederick Douglass said, ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.'” I am going to get on my William Calvin Chase and downright act a dignified and intellectual fool up in the place.


Frederick Douglass Papers, Manuscripts: 1888, Jan. – Feb., Image 5

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Frederick Douglass as profiled by Jane Marsh Parker [Salt Lake Evening Democrat, April 23, 1887, p. 4.]

“A marked characteristic of Frederick Douglass is his love for music. When but a little fellow he would go up to “the great house” to hear the violin play for the dancers. The fiddler, he says, did not play common airs, but the best music, and while he listened the little yellow boy under the window forgot everything else. Love of music drew him to the Methodist meetings, for the singing was music to him, and he joined in with a will. It was at these meetings he began to speak in public, and discovered how well he could talk and the pleasure in being praised for the same. When a Sunday school exhibition by the free negroes was in prospect he found a chance for exercising his budding oratory. He bought a “speaker” with the “tips” his master had given him for blacking boots, and selected a piece with a plenty of big words – a college oration was wherein expounded what man can by imagination. The words were Greek to him, but he particularly liked rolling out: “He can soar aloft where stars glitter on the mantle of light and a more effulgent sun lights up the blushes or morning.”

Talking with Frederick Douglass one is sometimes inclined to think that, interesting as his autobiography is, it does not contain many of the most interesting experiences of his life, those he once thought, perhaps, insignificant to the public. On his wife’s piano at Cedar Hill you may see the very same music book that he slipped into his bundle when he skipped out of Maryland. It is worth something to see him standing with his violin singing with Mrs. Douglass those old “Seraph” hymns. If you had breakfast with him on a Sunday morning he will pass you with his own hand the Maryland biscuit, and is it not worth knowing that are just like the biscuits “Miss Lucretia” used to give him when half starved he sang under her dining room window? “I used to wish I could have my fill of them, and now I mean to have, you see?”

There was living in Washington a year of so ago an old colored man, who was a fellow slave with “Fred,” as he still calls him. His wife was the daughter of the old fiddler of “the great house.” Hearing them talk together – the recorder of the District of Columbia, and the tender of a furnace in the Capitol – laughing merrily over reminiscences of the plantation, was a unique experience.

“No, I don’t remember anything special that Fred used to do in them days,” said the old man in reply to probing inquiry, “only he jes wouldn’t be put upon and wanted to boss everything.”

Full story available HERE:


Salt Lake Evening Democrat, April 23, 1887, p. 4.

* This story was re-printed in papers throughout the country. *

Jane Marsh Parker was friends with the Douglasses for decades and contributed articles to leading magazines of the late 19th century and early 20th century. She wrote novels as well as histories, including an 1884 book about the history of Rochester, New York which features Frederick Douglass.

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