Frederick Douglass

On this day in 1895 the great orator and author Frederick Douglass attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington DC. He was a powerful advocate for equal rights for all, including voting rights for women, and he was invited onto he platform and given a standing ovation. A little later that day, shortly after returning home, he died suddenly, probably from a massive heart attack or stroke. He was 77.

On February 1 this year, speaking on the first day of Black History Month, President Donald Trump, looking at a piece of paper apparently listing names of major figures in black history, said, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more I notice.”

It’s worth seeing just how he said this and how his press secretary later responded to a straightforward question asking what Trump specifically had in mind. Seth Meyers has clips of both in the following video. The section in question runs from 1 minute to 2 minutes 30 seconds (though the whole video is worth seeing).


Some people find it hilarious; I find it pretty bizarre that Trump and Spicer both seem clueless who Douglass was and seem to think he’s still alive.

If you by chance work in the Trump White House, here’s the short version: Born into slavery in 1818, Douglass largely taught himself to read and write and in his teens tried to teach other slaves with the tacit permission of the plantation owner until other slaveholders in the area put a stop to it. At the age of 20 Douglass escaped to the North where her married and in a few years was recognized for his oratory. He spoke and wrote extensively on slavery, counseled President Lincoln, campaigned for women’s suffrage and the rights of American Indians and everyone, advocated dialog and cooperation even with slaveowners, and held public office. He was one of the greatest Americans.

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