Posts Tagged Lawrence Jackson

Another book about “political philosophy” of Douglass -> “A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass” (University of Kentucky Press, 2018)

I was sent information after the fold by Williams College Professor Neil Roberts, the books’s editor, and responded with an inquiry clarifying how the alleged “rising scholars” were selected.

I’ve heard of Angela Davis and Nicolas Bucolla (when I told an intern of his I would not do pro-bono research for her into the New National Era) but otherwise I’ve never heard of nor corresponded with any of the scholars.

Professor Roberts said he was familiar with my work and not bound by the academic insularity that, in my opinion, has suppressed the field of Douglass Studies for generations.

I decided even as the book appears to be a compilation of mumbo-jumbo academic word salad scholarship — i.e. “hemispheric thinker” as descriptive praise — it is a new work of Douglass Studies. Therefore it deserves attention on principle of uplifting scholarship.

Personally, this philosophical scholarship appears a striking resemblance to its first-cousin … speculative scholarship.

We’ve been here before:

Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man (2018)
The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass (2012)
Frederick Douglass: Race and Birth of American Liberalism (2008)
The Mind of Frederick Douglass (1986)

We hope A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass (2018) mentions at least two Supreme Court Justices, three Senators, four Congressmen and a President other than Lincoln. The political network of Douglass and its implication has yet to be advanced by scholars. We hope. We always do.

Prof. Roberts is a young Douglassonian scholar. This generation of Douglassonians, and the next, must build an entire infrastructure of Douglass Studies that scholars of Lincoln, Twain, Dickens, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman and others have enjoyed for decades.

In our limited understanding of the nascent field of Douglass Studies, Prof. Roberts and Johns Hopkins University Prof. Lawrence Jackson are the only two men of African descent engaged in the work of uplifting scholarship.

We understand the limitations of the university and commend these two scholars for their important work.

Lastly, we have on open invitation to Prof. Roberts, and all other educators, to walk Old Anacostia and see what Dr. Douglass saw.


Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a prolific writer and public speaker whose impact on American literature and history has been long studied by historians and literary critics. Yet as political theorists have focused on the legacies of such notables as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Douglass’s profound influence on Afro-modern and American political thought has often been undervalued.

In an effort to fill this gap in the scholarship on Douglass, editor Neil Roberts and an exciting group of established and rising scholars examine the author’s autobiographies, essays, speeches, and novella. Together, they illuminate his genius for analyzing and articulating core American ideals such as independence, liberation, individualism, and freedom, particularly in the context of slavery. The contributors explore Douglass’s understanding of the self-made American and the way in which he expanded the notion of individual potential by arguing that citizens had a responsibility to improve not only their own situations but also those of their communities.

A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass
 also considers the idea of agency, investigating Douglass’s passionate insistence that every person in a democracy, even a slave, possesses an innate ability to act. Various essays illuminate Douglass’s complex racial politics, deconstructing what seems at first to be his surprising aversion to racial pride, and others explore and critique concepts of masculinity, gender, and judgment in his oeuvre. The volume concludes with a discussion of Douglass’s contributions to pre– and post–Civil War jurisprudence.

Neil Roberts is associate professor of Africana studies, political theory, and the philosophy of religion at Williams College. His book Freedom as Marronage is the recipient of awards from the American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory section and Choice magazine, and the Association for College and Research Libraries selected the work as a Top 25 book for 2015. He is president of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.

“Frederick Douglass’s identity as a major voice in black American thought has long been recognized, but his significance has usually been ghettoized. Neil Roberts’s important anthology is a valuable contribution to the growing body of work seeking to establish Douglass as one of the most important political theorists in US history—an interlocutor with whom we should all be urgently engaging, given the legacy of slavery and racial injustice in the United States.” — Charles W. Mills, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center, and author of Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism

“Through the careful, probing, and insightful work of an incredibly distinguished group of contributors, A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass sets a new bar for scholarly writing on Douglass’ political thought. This groundbreaking and rich text is essential reading.” — Tommie Shelby, Harvard University

“The beauty and brilliance of Frederick Douglass’s political thought is brought to life in Neil Roberts’ outstanding volume. Offering readers a rare opportunity to engage Douglass’s work in all its variety and complexity, A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass reveals him as a hemispheric thinker whose analyses of freedom, power, slavery, and white supremacy are enmeshed in current questions of affect, aesthetics, resistance, and the very nature of political membership. This book’s extraordinary social and political theorists remind us that democracy’s promise requires confronting the practices of unfreedom that haunt us still.” — Cristina Beltrán, New York University

For ordering please contact www.kentuckypress.com or call 1-800-537-5487 and use DISCOUNT CODE FS30 to receive a 30% discount through September 1, 2018

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General Samuel Smith, Mayor of Baltimore during Frederick Bailey’s flight to freedom, served as Vice President of founding of Maryland Colonization Society

General Samuel Smith Rembrandt Peale.jpeg

“General Samuel Smith,” oil on canvas, by the Rembrandt Peale. Maryland Historical Society.

Coming up running corners, alleys and the market square with the Point Boys, by the fall of 1838 the intellectually defiant, rebellious spirit of Frederick Bailey, known to leaders in both the white and free black community, got ghost.

On the 3rd of September 1838 General Samuel Smith, a veteran of the War of 1812, United States Congress and United States Senate, served as Mayor of Baltimore City.

In studying Douglass few biographers get into the specifics of his time in Fells Point. In recent years Dr. Ed Papenfuse and Prof. Lawrence Jackson have begun to uplift the scholarship.

Dickson Preston’s groundbreaking and influential Young Frederick Douglass is the only book which gives substantial attention to Fells Point. McFeely captures an especially interesting story from Fells Point folklore that survived nearly 150 years.

Has any Douglass scholar looked into the political climate of Baltimore City from 1820 until 1840?

I do not know but I can’t recall ever reading about the Mayor and City Council in existing Douglass Studies literature — specifically General Smith who in 1827 served as a founding Vice President to the Maryland Colonization Society, an auxiliary of the American Colonization Society.

While living in Fells Point the teenage Bailey had a connection with a Justice of the Peace who also served as an elector in municipal and statewide elections.

I won’t get into speculative and vacuous psychological scholarship to explain that this association Bailey had was important.

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Frederick Douglass’ 200th Birthday Celebration at Highland Beach — Saturday, April 7, 2018

Image from our friend Jay Roberts and his visit to Highland Beach.

Renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) transformed himself from a Maryland slave to an international spokesman for racial justice. Near the end of his life, he planned to retire at a newly built summer cottage in Highland Beach near Annapolis, MD. His legacy and his family’s involvement at Highland Beach created an incorporated African American town that continues to thrive until this day. Come and explore this extraordinary community together with other Fulbright members!

The agenda includes:

  • Tour of the Frederick Douglass home, museum and the neighborhood
  • Short film on the history of Highland Beach
  • Panel discussion and a featured talk by Dr. Lawrence Jackson, Fulbright scholar and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University.

The Birthday Celebration will be held at the Frederick Douglass Home and Museum and Highland Beach Town Hall (about 35 miles from Downtown DC) and run from 1pm to 5pm. 

NOTE: A shuttle bus from Union Station to Annapolis will be available for up to 23 participants for an additional $5. It will leave Union Station promptly at 11:30am and return riders there after the event.

For more information and tickets — HERE!

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Prof. Lawrence Jackson of Johns Hopkins University advances new age Douglassonian scholarship

Frederick Bailey of Baltimore _ LJ_JHU_2.10.2018Earlier this month at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore I attended a presentation by Douglassonian Studies scholar Dr. Lawrence Jackson of Johns Hopkins University.

Attentive and insightful historians can easily distinguish speculation from scholarship. Unfortunately, in the nascent field of Douglassonian Studies speculation stills reigns.

Fortunately and thankfully there is yet hope.

Using Census records, maps, pamphlets, newspapers, city directories and other scholarly resources Prof. Jackson introduced information gleaned from the creation of four interactive digital maps using GIS software. Jackson collaborated with his students, passing on the Douglassonian tradition, to generate these maps.

According to an online article about the project Jackson led, “Working with the Maryland Historical Society, the four students combed archives, old newspapers, and census records to trace Douglass’ pathways in the 1820s and ’30s. Then, with JHU’s Sheridan Libraries, they used the ArcGIS digital mapping platform to construct a visual narrative.”

Having attended dozens of Douglass discussions, panels and lectures over the years I can state beyond metaphysical certitude that, along with other scholars such as Prof. Leigh Fought, Zoe Trodd, Celeste-Marie Bernier and Morgan State doctoral candidate Candace Jackson Gray, Prof. Jackson is advancing Douglass scholarship to areas of previously unexplored terrain.

“Frederick Bailey of Baltimore” was an original, engaging, thoughtful and revealing discussion of the early years and experiences of Frederick Bailey in Baltimore as told through new sources of scholarship.

We commend Prof. Jackson and hope to see, hear and read more of his work on Douglass in the near future.

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