Great American orator, scholar, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born sometime in February of 1818 and died on this date, February 20th, in 1895. Among the many brilliant, fiery speeches he gave and essays he wrote, no lines have been more often excerpted and quoted than these, which apply today every bit as much as they did in his time. I’ve quoted them often, but never enough. So it’s fitting that I take this opportunity to commemorate him and do it again:
“The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up . . .
“If there is no struggle there is no progress . . . This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
I think we’ve found exactly out what people in this country are willing to quietly submit to. They demonstrate it every day.