Frederick Douglass is widely known as one of the most vocal defenders of human rights in the anti-slavery movement.
Douglass’ ideological opposition to slavery began to take shape after he was taught to read and write. Education was banned for slaves, but in spite of this, his slaveholder Sophia Auld decided to teach him the alphabet when he was around the age of 12. Not long after, her husband forbade her from teaching, but that didn’t stop Douglass who continued to seek learning opportunities wherever they may arise.
Frederick Douglass went on to write several autobiographies — the most famous of which being Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass — openly describing his own experiences as a slave. Later on, he went on to become the first African-American citizen to hold a high U.S. government rank.
Even after the Civil War was over, Douglass continued his campaign against slavery and has strengthened the idea according to which slaves weren’t able to function as independent American citizens because they were denied the access to education, not because they lacked the intellectual capacity. And he was the living proof of these arguments.
Opposing such a deeply rooted system, rising alone against so many, proves nothing but courage and love for people and freedom. Here are 22 Frederick Douglass quotes to make you want to stop ignorance from prevailing.
I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Without a struggle, there can be no progress.
People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.
The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
Some know the value of education by having it. I knew its value by not having it.
A smile or a tear has no nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man.
Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude.
A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.