|Black Perspectives, AAIHS, Frederick Douglass Forum, 26-30 Nov 2018|
This week Black Perspectives, the online journal of the African American Intellectual History Society, will be running a round table on Frederick Douglass. This forum will feature a series of historians expounding on topics of their research and specialty as they relate to our favorite subject, Frederick Douglass. On the final day, Christopher Shell will interview Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., descendant of both Douglass and Booker T. Washington, and head of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
Today, Manisha Sinha traces the theme of fugitivity -- the state and experience of being a fugitive --- through Douglass's life, showing the ways it informed his criticism of the United States and his vision for its future. Sinha delivered this piece as part of a roundtable on Douglass at the Paris conference in October. The roundtable there asked each participant to choose a word to describe Douglass, thus the framing of her contribution here. As always, her thoughtful consideration of the theme illuminates and connects various points in Douglass's long life.
Christopher Bonner turns to that latter point, discussing the ways that Douglass helped Americans imagine, in specific terms, a racially-just nation. Naturally, all African Americans wanted, demanded, a nation that included them as free and equal citizens. Yet, distilling millions of peoples' hopes into a crystalline set of goals and actions requires a man of electric vision. Bonner sketches the means by which Douglass accomplished that task.
Contributions from David Blight and Neil Roberts appear tomorrow, Noelle Trent's will appear on Wednesday, a post about Anna Douglass by yours truly receives Thursday's spot, and the interview with Morris ties the whole week up on Friday.
You may, of course, engage with the authors in the comments section on their posts at the forum. Don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't appear immediately, however, because they are moderated (just as comments here on this blog are moderated). There are, after all, quite a number of rude, irrational, racist bullies out there who just want to use someone else's platform to call attention to themselves and feel powerful.
Also, not the point of this post, the Prof. Bonner's post, or the painting, but I do love that the illustration of "Frederick Douglass's Radical Imagination" depicts him wearing a shawl. I am sure that there are about a thousand different textual interpretations to make of that, but my thoughts go in two directions. First, who did the artist envision as making him the shawl? Anna, perhaps, or Rosetta, or even a granddaughter? Second, as someone who knits and crochets, I want to make Douglass a shawl.