What Would Fredrick Douglass Say Today?
by Michael J. Lewinski 6/10/2020
Dean Nelson, the executive director of Human Coalition Action and chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, was interviewed by Virginia Allen. He was asked what Frederick Douglass might say to us today.
His first response was, “I think, one, he would echo the word ‘agitate, agitate, agitate.’ Frederick Douglass was one who felt like we needed to push the boundaries….” He emphasized all people but “particularly as black people, to demonstrate a level of dignity and poise.”
He talked about a lunch he recently had with Vice President Mike Pence. “The vice president echoed something that I believe, and that is, he feels at the root of this issue is the lack of the value and dignity for human life, and that racism is an assault against human dignity, and how can we address issues of race, issues of inequity within our American culture, but, at the same time, do it in a productive way?
He observed, “…Whether it is the life of a pre-born child that’s in the womb of his mother or whether it’s the life of a precious human..,” life must be honored at every stage of life. We are all created in the image and likeness of God, that means that whether we are rich or poor, black or white, that every person deserves that protection under the law. That is really what our great Constitution is all about.”
It’s critical to reexamine American culture in public conversations. He said it was important that that life was our first right. “America has been looked to as the leader in the free world… because the world has seen us, in many times, go to extraordinary circumstances to protect human life.”
“We have to come across ethnic boundaries [in conversations] to say that this is what it is fundamentally to be American, this is what it is fundamentally to be human…. It has to be done, I think, in every sector of our society.” It has to be done in the arts, entertainment education, family, or government.
“I believe, that [we] can demonstrate reconciliation toward one another. … I think that the idea of praying for the peace of our nation should be on the forefront of every leader’s minds and lips.”