The truth is the truth, regardless of when it is spoken. And who better to speak about timeless racial truths than Frederick Douglass?
A former slave and premier abolitionist writer, Douglass spoke and wrote often and forcefully that “It has long been the desire of our enemies to deepen and widen the line of separation between the white and colored people of this country.”
In literal effect, the only minority that counted for Douglass was the “Minority of One,” or the individual. And with what we have seen over the last few months and years in our country, we truly need to keep these teachings fresh in our minds because so many people from so many different standpoints are trying to separate us.
Douglass emphasized that America was a nation founded upon “human brotherhood and the self-evident truths of Liberty and Equality.” He went on to say that the designation or protection of specific groups or classes of Americans would lead to a focus upon benefits and burdens of class members at the direct expense of the protection of individual rights.
But, as he timelessly reminded us, “The Constitution knows no distinction between citizens on account of color.” Instead, the “burden of our demand upon the American people shall simply be justice and fair play.”
Thus, “We utterly repudiate all invidious distinctions, whether in our favor or against us, and only ask for a fair field, and no favor.” In other words, Frederick Douglass was a champion of Liberty, and asked for no more nor no less for everyone. Each one of us today should simply and stalwartly demand and enforce the same that is fundamentally what America is and should be about.
(Photo of Frederick Douglass courtesy the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester.)