Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"Engendering Douglass: The Women Who Shaped a 'Self-Made Man'" by Our Earnest Struggle

Frederick Douglass is often described as a self-made man. Yet his life was profoundly shaped by the women around him--both those who helped and loved him, and those who used and opposed him. Our guests introduce us to some of them, and discuss the challenges of recovering their stories.

Professor Leigh Fought (LeMoyne College) is author of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass (2017). She paints an intimate portrait of Douglass’s wife, Anna; searches the record for his grandmother, Betsey; demystifies his relationship with “fr'enemy” Susan B. Anthony; and explains how Ida B. Wells rekindled his activist fire.
Annette Daniels Taylor, a Buffalo-based poet and performer with Young Audiences of Western New York, talks about the art of conjuring the past. She discusses her soundwalk through the Douglasses’ Rochester and brings Anna Douglass and neighbor Jenny Marsh Parker to life.

Image: "Anna Murray Douglass" mural by Shawn Dunwoody, School 12, Rochester, NY
This interview with poet Annette Daniels Taylor and me highlights Anna Douglass from two different directions and disciplines. Imagination plays a different but crucial role in both of our work, too, as we both try to reconstruct her world within our specific crafts and with our particular goals. Although our interviews were conducted separately, we seem to be in a conversation with one another, touching on similar ideas (partly through the skill of the interviewer).

Annette Daniels Taylor's work can be found here at the Frederick Douglass Experiment. It's a beautiful and fascinating combination of poetry, history, and tourism, revealing the veils that layer a place.


  1. Dear Prof. Fought, thank you for including my work in your blog post. I enjoyed your book very much and look forward to one day meeting you!
    Annette Daniels Taylor

  2. Hello Prof. Taylor, thank you so much for reading my book! Your work is haunting and beautiful. Linking to it was all my pleasure. I hope to meet you one day, as well. -- Leigh.