Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14, 1817 – Feb. 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. Douglass escaped from slavery and subsequently became a leader of the abolitionist movement, known for his dazzling oratory and powerful antislavery writings — a living rejection of the racist argument that enslaved Black people lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.
The Relationship Between Struggle and Progress
This is one of Douglass’ most oft-repeated quotes, one that seems always relevant to the Black community: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.”
The Nature of Power
Douglass spent time watching and advising powerful men, and wielded considerable power himself. He understood that “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”