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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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Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Higher Education: University of Rochester Edition, Pt. 2 [Frederick Douglass to Rev. M.B. Anderson, D.D, President of University of Rochester, discussing potential lecture at Bucknell University, Nov. 23, 1868, Rochester, NY]

Autograph letter signed Frederick Douglass to_ Rev. M.B. Anderson-page-002

“Autograph letter signed Frederick Douglass to: Rev. M.B. Anderson, D.D, November 23, 1868, Rochester, NY”
Wellesley College Special Collections.

Dr. Frederick Douglass did not run with a monolith of radicals.

He ran with them all, my fellow Douglassonians, from radical booksellers in Fells Point to radical abolitionists on the anti-slavery lecture circuit to radical Republicans, such as Congressman Robert Smalls, representing the first generation of national black legislators.

Dr. Douglass ran with radical clergy, radical journalists, radical suffragists, radical black nationalists, radical labor organizers, an international circle of radical educators to name just a handful of the thoroughgoing cyphers of militant thought and action the fugitive slave-scholar stepped through to.

Never having attended a day of school in his life, Dr. Douglass self-directed his education under the shade tree in the country and in muddy back-alley streets.

I question the sincerity and genuineness of institutions of higher learning seeking to confer awards on Dr. Douglass without an accurate accounting of his lifelong relationship with radical educators and the university for a half-century.

I kindly advise University of Rochester NOT follow the same tone-deaf path Washington College took honoring Dr. Douglass and failing to address his longstanding relationship with higher education.

This is a polite word that for W Street Douglassonians it matters not Yale, Harvard, Maryland State Archives, Maryland Historical Society, Washington College or University of Rochester.

The era of playtime honorifics for Dr. Douglass is over. Speak on Douglass and Higher Education. Let it be known. Once. And. For. All. Times.

Rochester, Nov. 23, 1868.

My dear sir:

I am just home from Boston and am obliged by your note of the 18th. I will write to Pres. Loomis to day and give him a date when I can deliver a lecture in Lewisburg.

I receive many invitations, some from responsible [indecipherable] and others not – and I feel more secure from imposition when I have assurances as you gave me of your friend Dr. Loomis.

Truly yours with gr [sic] respect

Frederick Douglass

Rev. M. B. Anderson, D.D.
Pres. Rochester University

*Emancipated slave
and orator & editor.

*Archivist / Librarian notation.

SOURCE:

Original letter here.

 

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Frederick Douglass to Wilbur Siebert about his involvement with the Underground Railroad (March, 1893)

March 27, 1893.

Mr. W. H. Siebert,
Columbus, Ohio.

Dear Sir:

My connection with the Underground Railroad began long before I left the South (1838) and was continued as long as slavery continued, whether I lived in New Bedford, Lynn, or Rochester, N.Y. In the latter place I had as as many as eleven fugitive under my roof at one time.

The route from slavery to freedom, for most of the fugitives, was through Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and thence to Canada, These fugitives were received in Philadelphia by William Still, by him sent to New York where they were cared for my Mr. David Ruggles and afterwards by Mr. Gibbs also of New York, thence to Stephen Myers at Albany; then to J. W. Loguen, Syracuse; thence to Frederick Douglass, Rochester, and thence to Hiram Wilson, St. Catherines, Canada, West.

Mr. Still has written a book called the Underground Railroad, but because I, in my power, permitted a criticism of his conduct in taking from the fugitives who passed through his hands, what was thought was wrong, I see that he has omitted to mention my name in his books, as one of the Conductors on the Underground Railroad.

Very truly yours,

Frederick Douglass.

SOURCE:

Frederick Douglass to Wilbur Siebert, March 27, 1893. OHIO Memory Siebert Collection: Frederick Douglass.

Siebert, Wilbur Henry. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (1898).

Still, William. The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &c., Narrating the Hardships, Hair-breadth Escapes, and Death Struggles of the Slaves in Their Efforts for Freedom, as Related by Themselves and Others Or Witnessed by the Author : Together with Sketches of Some of the Largest Stockholders and Most Liberal Aiders and Advisers of the Road. (1872) 

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Washington College preparing to exploit the legacy of Frederick Douglass

I offered to advise Washington College and Prof. Adam Goodheart on the history of Frederick Douglass and his relationship with institutions of higher education but they were not interested.

They are many people and institutions exploiting Douglass for their own purposes which is very un-Douglassonian and should be forthrightly addressed with the greatest degree of severity and consequence.

I’m making it my place as a Co-Founder of the 16th & W Street Douglassonians to call out the lies and the liars, no matter who, what, where, when, why and how.

According to the announcement below, “Yet Douglass himself never had a college education, and Washington College is believed to be the first institution to award him an honorary degree since Howard University did so in 1872.”

This is patently FALSE. I tried to tell them but they are not Douglassonian scholars, whether credentialed or self-taught like Frederick Douglass, Esquire was.

There are folks and institutions which exert impious power of history, especially Douglass history, which has been “elusive” for more than a century because of many reasons.

If 2018 is the year of Douglass, then it is time to agitate, agitate, agitate.

And if you aren’t speaking with facts you’re speaking with nothing as it concerns the W Street Douglassonians.


Frederick Douglass to Receive Honorary Degree

Frederick Douglass

January 22, 2018

Washington College celebrates the legacy of the Maryland-born human rights activist and the bicentennial of his birth, Feb. 23, 2018.

On the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’s birth, Washington College is posthumously awarding him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Douglass’s great-great-great grandson, Kenneth Morris, co-founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and David Blight, a professor of history at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, will both offer remarks and receive the College’s Award for Excellence.

The free, public event, part of the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation, is slated for Friday, Feb. 23, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The ceremony will also be livestreamed:  https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/digital-media-services/live/

“Two hundred years after his birth, it is truly an honor for Washington College to recognize the tenacity and the moral courage Frederick Douglass exhibited by speaking out in support of equal rights for all men and women,” says College President Kurt Landgraf.

Born into slavery in February 1818, not far from the College’s campus on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Douglass came to understand at a very young age that education would be his path to freedom: “Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave,” he wrote. In 1838, he escaped slavery and spent the rest of his life speaking out on human rights issues, including abolitionism and women’s rights, in addition to serving as a federal official and diplomat. His first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), is taught in universities around the world. Yet Douglass himself never had a college education, and Washington College is believed to be the first institution to award him an honorary degree since Howard University did so in 1872.

When Douglass was born, Washington College — the first college in Maryland and one of the oldest in the United States — had already existed for almost forty years. Among its founding donors, alongside George Washington, were members of the Lloyd family, on whose Eastern Shore plantation Douglass was enslaved during his childhood. The College remained a racially segregated institution until the late 1950s.

“Even without a formal education, Frederick Douglass steeped himself in newspapers, political writings, and treatises to become one of the most famous intellectuals of his time,” Landgraf says. “Washington College should have been thrilled to enroll such a promising scholar. We can’t change that history, but we can and should learn from it.”

For a complete listing of events commemorating Frederick Douglass’s bicentennial, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/student-affairs/frederick-douglass-bicentennial/index.php

As part of the Douglass centennial activities on Feb. 23, members of the College’s Black Student Union will deliver copies of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave to eighth-graders at Chestertown Middle School. Joining them will be Ken Morris, a direct descendant of Frederick Douglass who will later accept the honorary degree on Douglass’s behalf. To honor Douglass’s 200th birthday, Morris’s family foundation is distributing one million hardcover copies of the book to middle-schoolers across the country.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is a modern abolitionist organization dedicated to teaching today’s generation about one of the most influential figures in American history and raising awareness about the ongoing crisis of human trafficking.

“Our message to young people today is that they have an obligation to get an education because of the contributions and the sacrifices our ancestors made,” says Morris. “Frederick Douglass never stepped foot in a classroom. He was completely self-taught. Imagine how he would have felt to have the same opportunities young African Americans have today. We also want inspire them through Frederick Douglass’s words and let them know that they can make a difference.”

 

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Excerpt of Frederick Douglass’ address to students at Western Reserve College, July 1854

Image result for frederick douglass reading“Colonization is out of the question, for I know not what hardships the laws of the land can impose, which will induce the colored citizen to leave his native soul. He was here in its infancy, he is here in its age. Two hundred years have passed over him, his tears and his blood have been mixed with the soil, and his attachment to the place of his birth is stronger than iron.”

Excerpt of Frederick Douglass’s address to student at Western Reserve College, July 1854.

SOURCE:

“AN EXTRACT,” Anti-Slavery Bugle, 5 August, 1854. Front Page.

 

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Peace Islam: Frederick Douglass visits Mohameden College (Al-Azhar University) in Cairo, Egypt

FDCC_Mr Muhammad speaking_12.9.17

Mr. Amir Muhammad of the America’s Islamic Heritage Museum speaks at Frederick Douglass Community Conference. William Alston-El serving as Grand Marshal.

Saturday, 26 February [1887]

Went this morning to Mohameden College where twelve thousand pupils
studying the Caron and preparing to teache its doctrines to the benighted sons of men. I saw about two thousand of them in the court and college building reading their morning lesson. They wore the peculiar dress and Turban of the Mahomedan and presented a striking spectacle. If sincerity is any proof of the truth of their creed, they certainly give that proof-but alas! Sincerity is no proof. The most revolting imposture has been defended by equal earnestness and sincerity. The followers of the prophet can pray as loudly and point to as many miracles as the Christian can, they even exceed the Christian in religious attention to ceremony. We also went to see the Mohamden Bible house,-  where you may see the Coran in all languages. It is a great sight. Two hundred millions of people are said to receive this Sacred Book, the Coran.

SOURCE:

Frederick Douglass Diary (Tour of Europe and Africa) – Library of Congress

 

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