It’s been more than 120 years since his death, but abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass is still relevant to this day, experts say.
“One reason Douglass is relevant today is because he teaches us what classical liberalism has to offer to racial minorities,” said Timothy Sandefur, author of “Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man.”
The title is a reference to Douglass’ most popular lecture “Self-Made Men.” In it, Douglass wrote, “Self-made men … are the men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any of the favoring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results.”
Sandefur made his remarks at a panel discussion Thursday at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington covered by The Daily Signal writer Kyle Perisic who wrote:
Douglass was a classical liberal, or what some would refer to as “libertarian,” in today’s terms, Sandefur said. He was an advocate for individualism, the right to bear arms, and economic freedom. The black abolitionist embraced the Constitution like few others and argued that it was an anti-slavery document.
According to Sandefur, Douglass believed that black Americans would succeed through their own efforts and once said, “If you will only untie their hands, I think they will live.”
Another excellent book on Frederick Douglass is, “Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln” by Harvard University scholar John Stauffer who describes the mighty transformations in the lives of these two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformed America.
Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation’s greatest president. Douglass spent the first twenty years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling-in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write-and became one of the nation’s greatest writers and activists, as well as a spellbinding orator and messenger of audacious hope, the pioneer who blazed the path traveled by future African-American leaders.