Legacy and Significance of Frederick Douglass


Words were the medium of his life

Frederick Douglass’ most important legacy was the use of his words to fight for the freedom and rights of African Americans. He used his oratory and writing skills throughout his life to communicate his desire to free African American slaves which led to the Emancipation Proclamation brought by President Abraham Lincoln. He then advocated for equal rights and opportunities for his fellow Americans as a Civil Rights leader. He published “The North Star” and “Frederick Douglass’ Paper to convey his message. He used his oratory skills until the day he died when he came home to his wife after a Women’s rights meeting and suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Douglass knew how special he was. Whenever he saw the opportunity, in his speeches and writings, he used his own symbolism against slavery and the dehumanization of human race.


Douglass' portrait on paper

 In 1851 Frederick Douglass changed the name of his publication from “The North Star” to “Frederick Douglass’ Paper”


Empowerment and Responsibility

Douglass devoted his life to abolish slavery but his work did not end when in 1861 President Lincoln ended the institution of slavery. Douglass fought for civil rights and to empower African Americans to develop their own skills and to take responsibility for their actions. Slaves were used to being guided and told what to do by their owners. Douglass believed that African Americans had to prove that they deserved citizenship. He was involved in the civil war as a recruiter of African American soldiers. He encouraged them to join the Union Army as he deeply believed that America would accept them if they were contributors to society.

Literature and popular culture

His speeches and publications are part of America’s cultural history and of African American contemporary literature and politics. Douglass’ three autobiographies are one of the strongest influences in the slave narrative literary genre. His influence can be felt today as references in hip hop songs.

People can shape their own future

Despite his difficult life and against all odds he taught himself to read becoming one of the most famous African Americans of the 19th century. His story was an inspiration then as it is today. One of his most relevant messages may be his belief that people have the power to shape their own future. He believed that positive changes have cumulative effect and individual transformation would positively benefit society as a whole.

His vision was finally realized when Barack Obama became the first African American president of the United States on November 2008.


Barak Obama

 First African American President of the United States.




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