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Unit Four. Week Six POP UP, 7/5. What to the Radical is the Fourth of July?

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Teach Out Gathering Time

Sunday, July 5. 5:00-7:00pm PST

Meeting ID: 984 4028 7294

400 souls: reflecting on a community history of african america

week six

*programming note: 400 souls conversation and study will be back next week, with part six on deck for sunday, 7/11*


we convene in honor of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born in February, 1818 near the town of Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. at about eight, he was sent to Baltimore to live as a house servant with Hugh and Sophia Auld, relatives of his master. it was shortly after his arrival that his new mistress taught him the alphabet.

when Auld's husband forbade her to continue her instruction because it was unlawful to teach enslaved people how to read, Douglass continued his own education in secret. he made neighborhood boys his teachers, often giving away his food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing.

at about the age of twelve or thirteen, Douglass purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator, a popular schoolbook at the time. The Orator published thinkers from Plato to Thomas Jefferson. it helped him gain an understanding and appreciation of the power of the spoken and written word as two of the most impactful means by which to bring about permanent, positive change.

returning to the Eastern Shore at approximately the age of fifteen, Douglass became a field hand. it was at this age when he experienced the worst conditions of his life. it was during this time that he had an encounter with the now infamous "slavebreaker," Edward Covey.

their fight ended in a draw, but the victory was Douglass', as his challenge to Covey restored his self-proclaimed sense of self-worth. after an aborted escape attempt when he was about eighteen, he was sent back to Baltimore to live with the Auld family, and in early September, 1838, at the age of twenty, Douglass succeeded in escaping from slavery by impersonating a sailor.

Douglass first went to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he and his new wife Anna Murray began to raise a family. whenever he could, he attended abolitionist meetings. in October, 1841, after attending an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, Douglass became a lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and became close friends with colleague William Lloyd Garrison. it was this work that led him to public speaking and writing.

Douglass went on, with Garrison, to publish his own newspaper, The North Star. he also participated in the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, and wrote three autobiographies. he was internationally recognized as an uncompromising abolitionist, indefatigable worker for justice and equal opportunity, and an unyielding defender of women's rights.

he became a trusted advisor to Abraham Lincoln, United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, Recorder of Deeds for Washington, D.C., and Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti.

Frederick Douglass died late in the afternoon or early evening, of Tuesday, 20 February 1895, at his home in Anacostia, Washington, DC having left an immeasurable mark on the history of the US, Black liberation, and our understanding of radical politics, much of which has now been reframed and mismanaged in public memory.

we dedicate this first Teach Out "pop up" session to Douglass' words, mission, and work. may he rest in power.


our week six text

"what to the slave is the fourth of july?"

delivered by Frederick Douglass

July 5, 1852


our weekly provocations

3. BONUS: Hear Ossie Davis read the full text of Douglass' speech, at the link below.



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