The Life of Frederick Douglass with David Blight - Ep 021
Today, we have an experimental episode in store. Having had some amazing guests on the show who have told us their backstories and shared with us their inspirations, why limit them to those that still walk the earth today?
One of the historical figures that are very intriguing is Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist that was born a slave, who eventually became one of the most prominent abolitionists at his time, even heralded as the most famous Black man in the world, and the most photographed person in all of America in the 1800s.
To share Douglass’ fascinating life story, today’s guest is Professor David W. Blight, the world’s foremost expert on the life of Frederick Douglass. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Douglass biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, which combines stories and insights, drawing from a repository of Douglass’ letters and papers from the latter third of his life, which have not previously been written about.
David is the Sterling Professor of African American studies and the director of the Guider Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, not to mention an award-winning author of seven other books, plus multiple op-eds.
In this episode, Professor David Blight shares a bit about his personal relationship with Black history and what attracted him to Frederick Douglass, and goes on to share Douglass’ story, from the reinvention of his life out of human bondage, to discovering the power of language, and becoming a speaker during the golden age of oratory as performance, to his rise to stardom after writing his books, his mastery of multiple witting styles, and his declining mental health.
David also explains the relationship Douglass had with his wife and his family, his foray into writing history, and his problem with the pleasures and perils of fame, as well as the legacy he has left us in his words. Tune in today!
*Key Points From This Episode:*
* David kicks things off by speaking about his anticipated reception of Prophet of Freedom.
* The appetite for good history, what good history is – it tells a good story, it’s well-researched.
* David desires to reach real people who want to understand the essential threat of slavery.
* David talks about the influence that his teachers and historical sites had on him as a child.
* The narratives in Bruce Catton’s books factored into igniting David’s fascination with history.
* David first encountered Black history in college, after which he taught it in high school.
* What attracted David to Frederick Douglass – he realized that slavery, the civil war, and abolition are the essential threats of American history.
* David was attracted to both the importance of the subject and the story embedded in it.
*Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:*
David Blight on Twitter
David Blight on Facebook
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
David Blight Books
David Blight on Amazon
From Slavery to Freedom
The Peculiar Institution