February is Black History Month. Frederick Douglass was an outstanding abolitionist, writer, orator and statesman. By the description of this man, you might think that he was raised a freeman from a well-to-do family, educated at the finest schools – you would be wrong. This brave soul was born into slavery in February of 1818 (he never knew the exact date of his birth) and grew up on a Maryland plantation where he experienced the wretched, miserable, humiliating life of a slave. His family members were slaves except for his father – it was rumored that his father was a white master. His mother was torn away from him when he was an infant and his grandmother took care of him until the age of six, when he was taken away from her, as well. At the age of 8, he was trained as a houseboy and sent to another owner. The mistress of the house taught him the alphabet but was ordered to stop by her husband because it was against the law to teach a slave to read. But Frederick Douglass was tenacious – whenever he could, he took instructions from others and learned to read and write. By the time he was 12 years old, he fully realized the power of the written word. At 15, he was hired out to another slave owner and became a field hand, and on Sundays he taught the other slaves to read the Bible. Seeing this, the slave owner became worried and sold Mr. Douglass to a slave breaker – a very mean man that used the whip more than mercy. He whipped the 16-year-old regularly, trying to break his spirit. Mr. Douglass was eventually able to run away – he dressed as a sailor and used the papers of another black sailor and boarded a train, leaving the South (and slavery) behind forever. He described his first day of freedom as escaping from a den of lions. As a free man, he became a voice for inequality, anti-slavery and all human rights. He was encouraged by William Lloyd Garrison to become a speaker for the anti-slavery movement. His books and writings were positive thoughts to the equality of all people. He traveled and served under President Lincoln and President Grant. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” became a famous quote that defined his life.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.