Posts Tagged Maryland Historical Society

Why does Yale Professor David Blight say, he wants to “chain [Frederick Douglass] to a chair”? Blight exposes himself as a closet racist. Entire history community liable.

IMG_5849W Street Douglassonians can determine on at least two separate occasions — Harvard Law School in November 2016 and Maryland Historical Society in February 2018 — when Yale Professor David Blight has spoken of hypothetically chaining Frederick Douglass to a chair in order to interrogate him as to his “manipulative” autobiographies.

At Harvard Blight said:

And that’s the first problem that anyone working on Douglass faces. It’s how the autobiography is always in the way of the biographer.  The problem with Douglass is that the subject is always in your way. And you’re constantly trying to get around him, through him, over him. Sometimes, you just want to sit on him. You know, chain him to a chair – bad metaphor – and say, “Stop now!” Why don’t you talk about these 100 subjects in your autobiography?

At the Maryland Historical Society Blight said:

I have this imaginary seminar that we’re going to have someday with Douglass and he’s going to be at the end of the table and we’re going to — bad metaphor — but we’re going to chain him to the chair! He can’t get out!

This is sickening. This is dangerous. This statement is calculated, deliberative and manipulative. This is racist.

This is an older white historian from Yale describing, for at least the second time in a public setting, a fantasy (he claims he has had) where he intends to “chain [Frederick Douglass] to the chair!”

That David Blight has masqueraded as a “Douglass Scholar” for decades, speaking at recent events such as “The Future of the African American Past,” represents the oppressive power of “White Man Lies” over the entire American historical industry, let alone the nascent field of Douglassoniana Studies.

The history and life of Dr. Douglass is too sacred to be distorted by racists, liars and used car salesman-types.

The day of reckoning is upon David Blight, John Stauffer, Lou Fields and all those who betray history for their own exploitative purposes.

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Editor’s Note:

Special thanks to Marsha Andrews from Flint, Michigan. She recently contacted me on Facebook to defend David Blight’s racism. This post is because of her inability to tell me any errors in my scholarship.

 

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Open Letter to Prof. David Blight: It’s not about you. It’s about the next generation of youngsters, those whose birthright is to know the Douglassonian tradition is theirs to inherit.

FDNHS_Neighborhood Children on Cedar Hill front porch _ March 2012

Young W Street Douglassonians on front porch of Cedar Hill

Prof. David W. Blight
Department of History
Yale University
320 York Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8324

My name is John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012) which needs to be properly mentioned during your upcoming talks as the only existing book detailing Mr. Douglass’ largely unknown years in Washington City.

You know who I am.

When I first embarked upon writing my book in late 2011 I heard from many people you were at work on a biography on Mr. Douglass, which has still not been published all these years later. As a dutiful local historian and street reporter I sent you an email or two or three, along with a call, to let you know who I was and what I was endeavoring to do. I have the receipts.

As I moved forward with my research you were not particularly helpful or supportive of a young Douglassonian scholar. Other academics and “Douglass experts” were welcoming, helpful and offered assistance when I was trying to work through questions I had during the research process. The more I studied Mr. Douglass closely the more I realized how much of an abject mediocre scholar you are and which you remain today.

Mr. Douglass was for the youngsters, his whole life. He played baseball with neighborhood children at Cedar Hill. Students from Howard University were always welcome at Cedar Hill. You are a betrayal and disgrace to this Douglassonian tradition.

I told you I would catch you. I did.

At the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue at Emancipation Hall on July 19, 2013 I ran up on you. I told you, “I’m John Muller. You know who I am.”

You responded defensively that you’d read my book and offered it was “well written” or something such as that. I told you my interest was not your opinion of my book but your displaying a respect for the community of Anacostia, a place where the spirit and history of Mr. Douglass can be felt in the air at any time of the day, any day and any season of the year.

I invited you to attend my book talk at the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book happening the next day, July 20, 2013. You did not attend.

Additionally, I invited you to take one of my neighborhood walking tours of Anacostia while in town or during any of your subsequent visits to Washington City. To date you have never taken the walking tour. Other “Douglass scholars” have. They understand. You do not now nor have ever understood who Mr. Douglass was and is to Old Ana.

Since I am a self-taught 16th & W Street SE scholar you may continue to think you can dismiss me personally and the Douglass scholarship I have advanced for the past five years — which is far above and beyond the work you have done on Douglass during your entire time at Yale — along with having a continued blatant inattention of the neighborhood and community which I have been appointed as an ambassador for.

Your demonstrative disrespect and disregard for my scholarship is of no consequence other than to shine light on your intellectual and scholarly dishonesty but, my dear Prof. Blight, you WILL NOT ignore the neighborhood of Old Anacostia and the self-made and self-taught Douglassonian scholars who hold down the corners along 16th Street SE and W Street SE.

The men of Old Anacostia know more about Douglass and what his life means to the human condition than you, an intellectually dishonest, manipulative and selfish old white man could ever understand in 200 lifetimes, let alone 200 years.

The young men and elders of 16th Street SE respect, admire and honor Mr. Frederick Douglass as their neighbor and friend. Many men and women had their elementary school graduations at Cedar Hill. The history of Cedar Hill is the history of a neighborhood and its inhabitants protecting, guarding and preserving Mr. Douglass’ memory for generations so now people like you can safely genuflect and speculate. Understand that, sir.

As you are an alleged “Douglass expert,” whose career has been almost exclusively built as a white, European man discussing race and the history of black folk in this country it’s the least you could do to offer respect for the Asiatic community of Old Anacostia. But you show no respect. You are only about yourself and those within the Ivory Tower institutions who for decades have patted you on the back.

You show yourself to be a disgrace to the Douglassonian tradition at every turn and every word.

This past Wednesday, February 7, 2018, you spoke in Baltimore at the Maryland Historical Society. There were representatives from the Office of Governor Larry Hogan in attendance along with other luminaries.

When given this platform to discuss Mr. Douglass you peddled in your usual speculative history. More importantly, you did not acknowledge many things occurring around the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial you should have. It is not all about you, Prof. Blight. It’s about the heritage and legacy of Mr. Douglass and the younger generation.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is involved in ongoing effort to raise up One Million Abolitionists by distributing 1,000,000 special edition copies of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave to school-aged children throughout the country.

You did not mention this important effort to your rapt audience. You did not mention members of the Douglass-Bailey family. You did not acknowledge anyone or anything other than yourself and your own perceived authority on Mr. Douglass.

It is not about you, sir. It is not about me. It is about honoring Mr. Douglass and passing on his legacy to the next generation.

As a youngster growing up in Maryland I read Narrative in junior high school. I had a poster of Mr. D on my wall throughout high school. When I began working for the UPO nearly a decade ago in the neighborhood where Cedar Hill is located I always thought there was a reason God deployed me to W Street SE.

In Baltimore, on W Street SE, in Rochester, in Talbot County, in Savannah, Georgia, at Howard University and anywhere and everywhere from the Tuckahoe to Paris to Egypt where the name Frederick Douglass rings the bells of the Gods of not only American History but the history of civilization you will understand it is about the younger generation. It is about liberation of mind, body and soul. It is about uplifting fallen humanity.

Don’t you ever say “Freddy D” out your mouth ever again, whether in private or in public in front of an audience of primarily aged Europeans.

You do not have that right and I am letting you know you do not have that right with the full force of all the founding members of 16th & W Street SE Douglassonians.

We have never seen you come around the way. Never.

As a history professor at one of the world’s most prestigious universities I invite you to come to the corner and have a discussion. Try to teach your speculative Douglass history and you will be taught what Mr. Douglass truly means to people in a way you can never understand.

You do not own Mr. Douglass and his memory. Nor do I. No one does. Mr. Douglass lived his life to uplift all of fallen humanity. Mr. D was a friend to the friendless.

For thirty years you have exerted unearned power and control over the history of Frederick Douglass in not just this country but the world. Many, many elite institutions are guilty of elevating your mediocrity to the level of honor, including Washington College.

You sir, are no honor to Douglass. You are a disgrace.

The point of this letter is to kindly suggest you mention the One Million Abolitionists project moving forward, especially during your appearance at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site on the weekend of February 17 and February 18.

If you believe your self to be a Douglass scholar I’d kindly suggest you use the opportunities you’ve been given to uplift Douglass to the younger generation and the average man and woman in the community.

In conclusion, this is not about you. It’s about uplifting and liberating the next generation of youngsters, those whose birthright is to know the Douglassonian tradition is theirs to inherit.

Respectfully,
John Muller
Co-Founder, 16th & W Street Douglassonians

1400 block of W Street SE
Old Anacostia
Washington, D.C.

 

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Case for Speculations: No, David Blight, Douglass’ 1200 pages of biography is “not in the way.” (Part 3)

IMG_5849.JPGSpeculative historian Prof. David Blight has been provided a platform within the most elite of institutions for decades to genuflect on Frederick Douglass without advancing meaningful and lasting Douglassonian scholarship.

Speaking at the Harvard Law School in the fall of 2016 Blight said:

And that’s the first problem that anyone working on Douglass faces. It’s how the autobiography is always in the way of the biographer. The problem with Douglass is that the subject is always in your way. And you’re constantly trying to get around him, through him, over him. Sometimes, you just want to sit on him. You know, chain him to a chair – bad metaphor – and say, “Stop now!” Why don’t you talk about these 100 subjects in your autobiography?

For historians, such as Blight, who are long on speculation and short on facts I can understand how and why they would make such a telling statement.

Early Douglass biographers, such as Booker T. and Huggins, and more modern writers have simply repeated, regurgitated and retold the story Douglass told in his own life of his life. As Blight says, Douglass wrote 1200 pages of autobiography across his 1845, 1855 and 1881 works, along with an 1892 edition of Life and Times.

The challenges faced by Douglass biographers due to the limitations of Douglass’ own writings are only challenges if you make it so. To industrious and committed Douglassonians these limitations are opportunities.

For example, Douglass never offers a single mention of Howard University in his autobiographical works. For me, this was an opportunity to give a fuller account than had been previously published about FD’s service to Howard University for more than twenty years. I dedicated an entire chapter in Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C. to Howard University.

Not only was Douglass on Howard’s Board of Trustees from 1871 until his death, he raised money for Howard, regularly attended graduations and campus events, assisted in organizing the first alumni association, mentored Howard students and welcomed them to his Washington homes, welcomed VIPs to campus including President Hayes, testified before Congress on behalf of Howard and was by all accounts, other than his autobiographical writings, a fierce advocate for the university faculty and its students in innumerable ways.

I will continue to correct not only Blight’s current stale interpretations, speculations and presentations on Douglass but his decades of inert scholarship and blatant exploitation of Mr. Douglass.

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Maryland Historical Society hosts Frederick Douglass at 200 lecture (Wed., February 7, 2018)

The Maryland Historical Society is pleased to host noted scholar and professor of history at Yale University, David Blight, Ph.D., as he brings his expertise to discuss importance of Frederick Douglass’s life and thought as part of our recognition of Black History month.

In light of Douglass’s 200th birthday, and leading to the release of Blight’s upcoming full biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, this lecture is especially pertinent to today’s discussions.

The event is made free of charge to the public through the A. Helen Diggs Memorial Lecture Fund. We look forward to sharing this insightful lecture and commemoration of the life and impactful work of Frederick Douglass with the Maryland community on February 7th.

201 W Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Reservations are requested to ensure seating

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