In preparation for President’s Day, my daughter came home from school with a picture she had made of Abraham Lincoln and began reciting a portion of The Gettysburg Address. I was so proud. In my own memory of what I had learned about him, Abraham Lincoln represented equality and freedom for all. He was The Great Emancipator.
A couple of days later, a friend and I were talking. She shared with me that as a Black woman, she felt she may have a different perspective of Abraham Lincoln. She shared that while he was morally opposed to slavery and wanted it to end, he was not an actual abolitionist (contrary to what I had always believed). He was never in favor of ultimately bringing social and political equity to Black people, and didn’t believe they should have the right to vote or be a juror, the right to hold an office, or the right to intermarry or live with white people.
I won’t argue that he didn’t do some good for the country and for slavery. But the story that was taught to me, and now to my daughter, was a cherry-picked version in which he got to be the hero. And I’ve always just accepted him as that. But it was only a partial truth. The parts of the story that were omitted are equally important. They make the story whole.
Today, we took time to learn more about Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a Black man born into slavery and separated from his mother as a newborn. At 12 years old, his slave owner’s wife taught him the alphabet. When his owner discovered his wife doing this, he demanded she stop because he believed that if slaves were educated, they would seek freedom. Douglass persisted and taught himself to read and write. He eventually risked his life to escape slavery twice. He became a preacher, and a writer, and an orator. He was a believer in equality for all, and was a huge advocate of the Women's Rights Movement. As he settled into his freedom, he went on to become a leader of the Abolitionist Movement.
Today, he is the hero in this house.
"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous."
- Frederick Douglass
#themoreyouknow #blacklivesmatter #seektounderstand