What can we learn about slavery from the life of Frederick Douglass?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most profound elements that can be learned from slavery in Douglass' life is that there is much in way of cruelty that exists as part of American History.  Douglass speaks of the idea that there is an undeniable level of cruelty within slavery.  It helps to repudiate the idea that people engaged in slavery "did not know" the full implications of what they were doing.  Rather, Douglass' life speaks to the notion that people who owned slaves were quite deliberate in their cruelty.  One of the most powerful lessons that one can learn about slavery is that it represents the essence of cruelty.  The only formidable response to such a condition is direct confrontation.  Douglass' life is a testament to the idea that one cannot let injustice stand.  Active and direct confrontation to such reality is the only possible way in which there can be true and full resolution and change.  This becomes one of the lessons of Douglass' life.  It is a reminder that if direct confrontation to the deliberate cruelty of slavery is something that Douglass embodies, it becomes something that all of us can represent in the battles that dominate in our own lives.

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