Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, by Frederick Douglas
I genuinely enjoy reading history. American history, I have found to be quite fascinating even though our nation is very young compared to the rest of the world. In my reading I have a couple types of books that I like to mix into my reading intentionally: history, leadership, church topics, theology and I try to read at least one biography year. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was a great way to fill in many of these genres of books.
“From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.”
Narrative is the story of the son of a slave who also was born into slavery during the dark time in America’s history prior to the Civil War. Douglass eventually escaped his slavery through education to escape to the North. He detailed the life that he lived as a slave and the mindset that encompassed many of the slaves of that day, with harrowing details of the abuse and atrocities that befell him and so many others. Although it is truly a remarkable story of victory and overcoming, it is still a terrible tale of the evils of slavery and human oppression. What is in the heart of mankind that causes us to think that we could dominate and abuse any fellow human? Nonetheless, with incredible articulation and accurate storytelling, Douglass provides an immersive yet short read about his life, and he layers into that story what is valuable and important to life and the Giver of life.
Just recently I happened to see on Twitter that it was the celebration of what would have been Frederick Douglass’s 200th birthday. Interestingly enough, because of what was stolen from him and his life, he never knew what year he was born or his actual birthdate because of being separated from his mother as an infant and because of the mistreatment by his slave owners. Douglas used his freedom to go on to become a very outspoken critic of slavery and a powerfully persuasive spokesman for the abolitionist movement. It is interesting to see how God will take a person’s life and his suffering and the injustice they traveled through, and turn that around to be used against the enemy. Douglass’s story is truly remarkable.
I would encourage you to read this book as a history and reminder of what happens when our hearts go awry and astray from God’s will and God‘s Word. It will challenge you and stay with your memory for a long time to come, and that is a good thing, because the lessons they spark are truly inspiring. Narrative may cause you to ask God for mercy on your own life and it may cause you to look at your casual and common views of other people in a new light. So let it be. To abolitionists everywhere...
“You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”