Frederick Douglass, Ben Carson, and Black History

Frederick Douglass, Ben Carson, and Black History

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Unfortunately, while many Americans may view Barack Obama as the ultimate fulfillment of the legacy of great men like Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King, Jr., that is a shallow illusion.

(Public Domain/National Archives)

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 3, 2016 – As Americans entered February, a month designated as Black History Month, people in the state of Iowa were voting for the candidates they preferred  in the run for president of the United States. Amazingly, the only black candidate running for either party, Dr. Ben Carson, managed to come in fourth as a member of a GOP that doesn’t respect “outsiders” and in a predominantly white state. His fourth-place finish has come in question as accusations of unethical activity have surfaced against the Ted Cruz campaign.

There are some serious historical parallels between Ben Carson’s struggle for sincere recognition in the GOP and the course Frederick Douglass had to tread in the annals of Black History.

Frederick Douglass was one of the most important Americans in the nation’s history. As Martin Luther King Jr. was a central personage during the turbulent 1960s, Frederick Douglass shed the light of truth upon the evils of slavery in his day. And before readers make a false leap of logic, Barack Obama does not follow in this line as a present day Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King Jr. While President Obama shares a “blackness” with the two greater men, he should not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. He should by judged by genuine support of the bedrock principles embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Such support is the true measuring stick.

Frederick Douglass and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated their support of the bedrock values and principles of the United States. On the other end of the spectrum, Barack Obama, despite being considered a constitutional “scholar,” seems to have studied the law of the land for the sake of his and his political party’s intent to destroy the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Of course, there are some who are aware that Frederick Douglass initially accepted views of William Lloyd Garrison that the Constitution was a “covenant with death and an agreement with hell,” but Douglass’ thoughts regarding the Constitution evolved. After Douglass shook off the controlling influence of his mentor, the former slave saw the Constitution as a document of freedom.

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Most Americans who have studied U.S. history recognize Frederick Douglass as one of the most famous individuals in American history, let alone Black History. After two previous unsuccessful attempts of running away, Douglass finally escaped slavery and became the first slave to declare publicly that he was a fugitive. After obtaining refuge and relative freedom in the North, Douglass eventually became one of the best-known abolitionists of his time. Once in the North, he shocked the populace with his eloquence when he spoke about his personal ordeals as a slave. He was able to serve as a prime witness against the evils of slavery and enlightened the  northern citizens who read his books or came to hear him speak on his life experiences as a slave or to denounce slavery as an institution.

After living in relative freedom in the North, Douglass attended an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts in 1841. This became as much a critical turning point in his life as his escape to freedom because at the convention, he became impressed with William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the Liberator, one of the most potent abolitionist newspapers in the nation. Douglass became a colleague of Garrison, who became a sort of mentor to Douglass. They gradually developed a symbiotic relationship and became two of the most outspoken abolitionists in the country.

Frederick Douglass eventually developed adverse views regarding the U.S. Constitution, as he was seriously influenced by those who possessed a strong antipathy toward the Constitution. After he met William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass joined the American Anti-Slavery Society as a public speaker, and he went out on the lecture circuit. Douglass was eventually deeply influenced by the views of Garrison, among others, regarding the Constitution. Douglass came to view the document as law that sanctioned slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, as an ardent abolitionist, went so far as to publicly burn copies of the document in the streets of Boston.

On Jan. 27, 1843, William Lloyd Garrison also profoundly impacted Frederick Douglass when Garrison generated a public resolution that denounced the Constitution as a document sanctioning the criminal activity of slavery. Garrison specifically charged, “The compact which exists between the North and the South is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” The resolution was adopted by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Nevertheless, Douglass matured in his political views, and he evolved in his personal position regarding the law of the land. In fact, Douglass made one of the most dramatic changes in position regarding the value of the Constitution in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Douglass had to break free of the orbit of William Lloyd Garrison before he could make a dramatic position change on the Constitution. On Dec. 3, 1847, after Douglass came back from a tour of England and Ireland, he used funds entrusted to him by people in Britain to start his own weekly abolitionist newspaper that he called the North Star. This initiated a substantial break with his previous supporter.

Garrison felt largely responsible for the rise in prominence and fame of the former slave, but ironically, he opposed Douglass in the move to establish a separate abolitionist news organization. He may have regarded it as some needless competition for his own newspaper. Nonetheless, in the North Star Douglass replicated Garrisonian views that the Constitution was intentionally pro-slavery.

Over time, Douglass read and studied more the founding documents and became more aware   of many other abolitionists outside the realm of Garrison’s persuasion. He began to mature politically and even publicly debated with Lysander Spooner and Gerrit Smith, abolitionists who supported the Constitution. In 1846, Spooner, an ardent abolitionist, had proposed the opposite of Garrison: that the Founders had not deliberately legalized slavery. Douglass, a former slave, a self-educated man, came to a common- sense conclusion that still rings true down through the ages.

Ultimately, Douglass made one of the most dramatic position changes on the U.S. Constitution in the nation’s history. In his newspaper, he published his bold change of opinion about the Constitution and later in a speech he proclaimed it as “a glorious liberty document.” If anyone still doubted the new position Douglass had adopted, he made his views crystal clear in a speech on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York. James Colaiaco, in his book “Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July,” makes the point that this speech, given to the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, is arguably the most powerful abolition speech of the time.

The value of Douglass to the formation of the United States of America is clear, as he was perhaps one of the most important leaders of the abolitionist movement before the American Civil War, and a dedicated women’s rights advocate long afterwards, until the day he died. The Rev. Martin Luther King’s powerful “I Have A Dream” speech echoed the sentiments of Frederick Douglass when King demanded, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that America live up to the Founding Father’s promise when he said:

…we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately, while many Americans may view Barack Obama as the ultimate fulfillment of the legacy of great men like Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King Jr., that is a shallow illusion. The Progressive-Revisionist political propagandists would want to manipulate people to believe that is reality, but if one seriously examines the bigger picture, the current president has allowed the development of a new white backlash against his radical anti-American agenda. Today, the efforts of all blacks, or others of color who may want to pursue their God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been weakened by Obama’s lack of efforts to promote the guaranteed freedoms and his efforts to weaken the Constitution.

Evidence of this white backlash against Obama is to a degree on display at the GOP debates, and to some extent in the Iowa caucus. Nevertheless, a political novice, a black man who could be more readily seen in the line of great leaders in Black history who supported America, and truly considered a fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, was targeted by unscrupulous opponents for a scam.

Republican Ben Carson finished in fourth place (possibly due to political disinformation labeled “mistakes”), but if one considers the flip side of what it means, he finished well ahead of former state governors and U.S. senators. But, if one considers the flip side of that, if Carson did not believe so strongly in America as he does, he probably would have come in first, had he run in the Democratic lane.

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