The Conviction and Resolve of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass is an individual God has used to impact history

“Through reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass I learned several lessons. The most significant lessons were on conviction and resolve. Douglass’ life along with the life of other African-Americans can contribute to our understanding of the Christian life and theology.”

 

Black history is part of the story on God has been faithful and all-sufficient for those of African descent. Each individual included in the story of black history was an instrument in the hands of God. God used the militancy of the Black Panthers and the peacefulness of MLK for his divine purposes. Frederick Douglass is an individual God has used to impact history.

Through reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass I learned several lessons. The most significant lessons were on conviction and resolve. Douglass’ life along with the life of other African-Americans can contribute to our understanding of the Christian life and theology.

Conviction
Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland in February 1818. He had several masters during his time as a slave. For a season in his life, he was owned by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Mrs. Auld secretly taught Douglass the alphabet and spelling, which was highly discouraged. Once her husband discovered this, he immediately urged her not to educate him anymore because she would ruin him as a slave. He said, “A n***** should know nothing of but to obey his master—to do as he is told. Learning would spoil the best n***** in the world.” He continued with “if you teach that n***** how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever make him unfit to be a slave.” Douglass overheard this conversation, which sparked his determination to pursue knowledge so he might escape the horrors of chattel slavery.

Douglass refused to accept the norm after hearing Mr. Auld’s words. He developed a deep conviction that motivated him to pursue knowledge and to be free from bondage. In his autobiography, he writes, “From my earliest recollection, I date of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace.” As a result, Douglass became an educated free man and abolitionist who spoke about the evils of slavery. Though his journey was difficult and contained a lot of opposition, his conviction spurred him onward.

Resolve to Fight
Douglass had multiple significant events that occurred during his time as a slave, but one particular incident changed Douglass’ perspective as a slave. Mr. Covey, one of Douglass’s masters, was preparing to whip Douglas as he had many times before, but this time Douglass had a “resolve to fight.” He grabbed Mr. Covey by the throat, which led him to call for help. Douglass bested Mr. Covey’s helpers in an altercation that lasted about two hours. After their fight, Douglass said, “I did not hesitate to let it be known of me that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me.

His fight changed his relationship with his oppressors. Douglass was never again whipped while he was with Mr. Covey, but he did have several fights. Douglass’s “resolve to fight” resulted in him no longer peacefully submitting to his oppressors, but fighting them.

[Editor’s note: This article is incomplete. The source for this document was originally published on raanetwork.org – however, the original URL is no longer available.]