Frederick the Great

This sort of goes along with our discussion in the Glitches post — in today’s Boston Globe, Derrick Jackson writes about the great Frederick Douglass. Never let it be forgot that every civil rights activist since stood (and still stands) on Douglass’s shoulders.

Jackson mentions a speech Douglass made 200 years ago in Boston. “The speech was given at Boston’s Music Hall after a mob drove Douglass out of the Tremont Temple,” Jackson wrote. I believe this is that same speech. Jackson ties what Douglass said about slavery to gay marriage legislation that was pushed by Mitt Romney in the final weeks of his term as governor of Massachusetts. Inspirational and thought-provoking stuff.

3 thoughts on “Frederick the Great

  1. The African American Meeting House in Boston is 200, the speech was given in 1860. Douglass had been speaking out for almost 20 years by then. He called out the complicity of the church in perpetuating slavery, calling them the “brotherhood of thieves” at an antislavery convention that was broken up my a mob.

    To which he wrote, “I place a very low estimate on the good opinions of my countrymen – quite as low, I think, as they do on mine, if I may judge from their very great anxiety to have me speak well of them, which I positively never can, so long as their national capital is a human flesh-mart, and their chief magistrate is a slave-breeder. As I said at your meeting, among other things, that the American church and clergy, as a body, were thieves, adulterers, man-stealers, pirates, and murderers”.

    For those interested in this amazing man, James Monroe Gregory’s book on his life is available online at:

    The Boston speech has the seminal line, “There can be no right of speech where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments”.

  2. I love Frederick Douglass. A way cool guy who could write with a sincerity and truthfulness that no other writer could even approach. Here’s a favorite passage of mine written by Douglass that imparts an understanding in the most direct and honest way.

    Another advantage I gained in my new master was, he made no pretensions to, or profession of, religion; and this, in my opinion, was truly a great advantage. I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,—a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,—a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,—and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me.

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