The Visionary Genius of Frederick Douglass

University of Maryland

Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. Professor Bell is author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home, which was shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. 

 

Overview

What Did Frederick Douglass Accomplish?

Frederick Douglass was a visionary—a prophet who could see a better future that lay just beyond reach. He was, alongside Lincoln, the greatest American of the 19th century and put his extraordinary gifts to use in the service of freedom, driving American slavery into the grave. After the carnage of the Civil War, he played a central role in the re-founding of American Republic as well, and spent decades afterwards defending and perfecting it.

The Life of Frederick Douglass

Douglass, though, is so much more than another great man on a pedestal. He was the slave who dreamed of being a senator. He was the unlettered child with no formal schooling who wrote three autobiographies, becoming one of our greatest literary figures. His life bursts with contradiction and with change. He was the dignified, brilliant, and courageous freedom fighter who could sometimes be insecure, vain, and arrogant. He was the outspoken feminist who treated his own long-suffering wife like his servant. He was the fire-breathing insurgent who would eventually become an out-of-touch elder statesman. To understand how the boy born into bondage in 1818 became the Frederick Douglass that we hold in such esteem today, we must understand this man’s visionary genius not as innate, God-given, and infallible, but instead as the imperfectly beautiful product of growth, of change, of self-doubt, and of struggle.

More On The History Of Frederick Douglass

Learn more about the legacy of Frederick Douglass and other topics by checking out other great videos at OneDayU, including ‘What Happened To The News, ‘Music & Theater: Past, Present & Future& ‘Making Better Choices: The Art & Science Of Rational Decision Making’ all on-demand now.

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