So as my title suggests, i havent done much reading since 11th grade. What i was reading junior year though, was all stuff assigned to me by the most boring people who work for the school board. The only really good one i ever came across was Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.
The book is pretty much Douglass recalling his journey as an african american born into slavery. He was separated from his mother when he was very young and moved from owner to owner. Unlike most slaves, he is taught to read by a kind slave owners wife. This woman ends up being one of the most important factors in the abolitionist movement, since Douglass goes on to write and speak as a leader of the movement. If youre like me, history may not be your thing, but the abolitionist movement was the first to get the ball rolling on abolishing slavery. If youve seen the movie amazing grace, then you can relate this book to that movie.
His recollections really gave me perspective into the harshness of slavery. Douglass didn’t even know his age because that was a tactic used by slave owners to keep slaves ignorant, therefore under control. A lot of the things we take for granted today are things that were kept from douglass in order to dehumanize him. He was separated from his mother, not aware of his own birthday, kept from learning, and traded/sold. Douglass uses all of these examples to teach a really important lesson on the power of knowledge. The slave owners kept the blacks ignorant by not allowing them to feel human or learn to think for themselves. In doing this they robbed them of the power to free themselves. The man is a guru and he was born with nothing.
“You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom’s swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. (10.8)“
I’d definitely recommend the book to a history buff or just someone who likes reading american history stories. Although im sure almost everyone has been forced to read this book, i think its one worth a second read. I re read it and found it much more of a pleasure read because the vocabulary is easier to understand now as opposed to in 11th grade. Just another note, this dude was a SLAVE. like he wrote this crap that had all of us (who have been reading since we were 5) in school discombobulated as hell just trying to figure out what half of his words mean.
So i think thats a notably amazing fact in itself. Maybe im just fruity for Frederick, but i definitely think (going with the theme of windows mirrors and stuff) this book is a must read for anyone interested in gaining insight into black history or just american history in general.
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