The descendants of abolitionist Frederick Douglass are outlining his many accomplishments days after President Donald Trump vaguely remarked about the “amazing job” the abolitionist did.
Douglass’ family issued a statement elaborating on Trump’s comments Wednesday, Feb. 1, when he said the late newspaper founder “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.” The president’s present-tense remarks led many to question whether Trump even really knew who Douglass was and that he’s been dead for nearly 200 years.
On Friday, Feb. 3, The Huffington Post published a list of accomplishments Douglass’ descendants believed Trump would have referenced if he had more time to do so.
“Frederick Douglass did an amazing job enduring the inhumanity of slavery after being born heir to anguish and exploitation but still managing to become a force for solace and liberty when America needed it most,” the statement said. “[He did an amazing job] establishing the North Star newspaper when there was very little in the way of navigation or hope for the millions of enslaved persons, understanding that racism in America is part of our ‘diseased imagination,’ recruiting his sons — who were born free — to fight in the war to end the enslavement of other African-Americans.”
The family purposely used the present tense in their statement “because his spirit and legacy are still very much alive, not just during Black History Month, but every month.” They also outlined other initiatives they hoped Trump’s administration would support in the year leading to the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth in Feb. 2018. Such efforts include publishing the bicentennial edition of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” and giving it to one million high school-aged children as part of the One Million Abolitionists project. Douglass’ estate also hopes to establish the PROTECT human trafficking prevention education program in California, which will continue the orator’s work to end modern-day slavery.
“These are just a few examples of how Frederick Douglass has impacted and will continue to impact this country,” the statement concluded. “We look forward to helping re-animate Douglass’ passion for equality and justice over the coming year leading up to his bicentennial in 2018. We encourage the president to join in that effort.”