The Fire of Frederick Douglass with Dr. Richard Bell - Context Travel

The Fire of Frederick Douglass with Dr. Richard Bell


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Frederick Douglass was a visionary—a prophet who could see a better future that lay just beyond reach. He put his exceptional gifts to use in the service of freedom, driving American slavery into the grave. After the carnage of the Civil War, he played a central role in the re-founding of the American Republic as well and spent decades afterward defending and perfecting it. Explore his life, family, and career, and consider his impact upon our modern struggle to advance the cause of black freedom in the United States.

Douglass, though, is so much more than another great man on a pedestal. He was the slave who dreamed of being a senator. He was the unlettered child with no formal schooling who wrote three autobiographies, becoming one of our greatest literary figures. His life bursts with contradiction and change. He was the dignified, brilliant, and courageous freedom fighter who could sometimes be insecure, vain, and arrogant. He was the outspoken feminist who treated his own long-suffering wife like his servant. He was the fire-breathing insurgent who would eventually become an out-of-touch elder statesman. To understand how the boy born into bondage in 1818 became the Frederick Douglass that we hold in such esteem today, we must understand this man’s visionary genius not as innate, God-given, and infallible, but instead as the imperfectly beautiful product of growth, of change, of self-doubt, and of struggle.

Led by Dr. Richard Bell, a professor of history at the University of Maryland, this seminar explores this many-sided man’s life, family, and career, and assesses his impact upon our modern struggle to advance the cause of black freedom in the United States.

Dr. Richard Bell is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He has won more than a dozen teaching awards and has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress. He has published a number of books; his latest is "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home".

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.