douglassBy John D. Pierce

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk today?

FD: Sure. It’s been awhile since I’ve done an interview.

Q: Well, what do you make of this newfound attention?

FD: We’ll, it’s a bit surprising, but it seems some of the things I’ve been saying for longer than a whole century needs repeating.

Q: We’ve heard lately that you are an “example of somebody who’s done an amazing job.” Can you tell us a bit more about what others might consider amazing?

FD: My bio usually states that I went from a slave to a statesman. I never claimed to be a statesman. But there is plenty of reading one can do to discover much that I said and did for the cause of freedom. Hopefully, those things are being read more today.

Q: You equated education with emancipation. Does that mean one can be a prisoner of ignorance?

FD: Or to put it another way: Education means the uplifting of the soul into the glorious light of truth by which one is made free.

Q: Yes, that’s a better way of saying it. There’s a lot of talk today about getting along despite differences. What criteria do you use for choosing collaboration?

FD: Just one: I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.

Q: People in the minority often turn away and turn inward without much hope. What perspective might you offer to encourage them to be steadfast and hopeful?

FD: The person who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe.

Q: Years ago, you had the ear of a president (Lincoln). What might you whisper into the presidential ear today?

FD: Oh, the same thing I said more than a century ago: The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.

Q: As you experienced long ago, those claiming to love God and follow Jesus lined up to both defend human slavery and to abolish it. Still today there is a great divide among the religious-minded when it comes to issues of freedom and justice. Are church people helpful or harmful when it comes to needed social change?

FD: Both. And God is most glorified when there is peace on earth and goodwill toward all persons. And true Christianity — which comes from above — is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy.

Q: That hypocrisy seems to be hardest part. You’ve written and spoken a great deal about hope and you revealed such hope — and what you called the faith of your soul — in the struggle for the freedom of slaves. Why did you believe so deeply that the abolitionist cause would triumph?

FD: Because truth is of no color. God is the father of us all.

Q: Well, thanks for taking time to talk. It would be good to hear from you “more and more.” Perhaps I’ll follow you on Twitter.

FD: How about just following the long and winding road of justice instead? Looks like there are some potholes and roadblocks still ahead.


(Note: The non-snarky responses in this conversation are based on quotes by Frederick Douglass from various speeches and writings selected for a Feb. 3, 2015 tribute published by The Deseret News.)

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