A lifelong crusader against discrimination, the great orator and journalist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey on this day on a farm near the Tuckahoe River of Talbot County, Maryland.
Born into slavery, he read the Bible as a child. With books, life became full of possibilities as he learned of the injustice of slavery and the rights of freedom. "Once you learn to read you will be forever free," he once said.
Refusing to back down from his beliefs, at age 20 he fled to New York. "I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted," he said. With freedom, the spirited Frederick changed his surname to Douglass, after the hero in Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake (1810).
In pursuing a life of freedom, he found his voice to help others. The self-taught orator, perhaps the greatest of his time, eloquently inspired and educated on the need for full civil rights for all. In his quest for social reform, he published his autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in 1845.
Douglass said, "Without a struggle, there can be no progress."
In 1847, to further fight for the equality of slaves and women, Douglass started the newspaper The North Star, named for the night beacon that slaves followed to escape to freedom. His words and actions changed the course of history.
"Power concedes nothing without a demand," he said. "It never did and it never will."
Don't give up!