We all need a North Star… Wisdom from Frederick Douglass…

August 14, 2023 by  
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It is difficult to look at the life of Frederick Douglass and not become completely enthralled. Over the years, as I have ventured beyond the surface-deep historical facts by reading his speeches and writing, I have been astounded by his insight into the human condition and his wisdom which inspires the reader to live their best, most sacrificial life. It is no coincidence his first newspaper was titled THE NORTH STAR (later called the FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ PAPER). I would submit we can all use a clear guide to true north. Here’s hoping and praying that every new generation studies his life and writings, thereby helping to ensure “a more perfect Union” and a brighter future for all.

Source: Edited photo from the Library of Congress, Washington, DC

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One Response to “We all need a North Star… Wisdom from Frederick Douglass…”

  1. Jon Allen on August 18th, 2023 6:56 pm

    Dear Mrs. Heilenman,
    Many thanks for your eloquent, brilliantly concise appreciation of Frederick Douglass.
    I can’t think of anyone else from the 19th century whose relevance remains as comprehensive, profound and immediate. ‘Timeless’ verges on euphemism.
    …It was a profound joy, not long ago, to buy a couple of newspapers from you folks, with front-page, local ads for addresses by Douglass in upstate New York, during the early phases of the Civil War. –Within a couple of days of eachother!
    Very much to your point, I had to complement them, and the first version of his Autobiography, with an anthology of his speeches and journalism.
    His prose is magnificent –quintessentially Victorian, during the first high tide of the British novel; leaving a correspondingly deep impression on audiences during his periods of exile in England. But also with a distinctly Black American oratorical edge, informed and animated by his own experience.
    Yes, during this period, issues relating to assimilation inhabited a qualitatively different sphere than they appropriately do in our own time. But more to the point, from his Autobiography, I remain amazed that his faith-based response to his own experience –including barbarities on other people, which he witnessed– left him able to be the …well, unwavering witness that he was, rather than spending the rest of his life in debilitating PTSD.
    I’m confident that I’ve yet to explore his ouvre, or his life, as extensively as you have. But in his case, you don’t need that much for it to resonate, loud and clear. Yes, like a church bell.

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