I Like FDR: Frederick Douglas Republicans

Is a political shift taking place among blacks? A group of us went to an advanced screening of Runaway Slave, and we can say unequivocally, Yes!

“In RUNAWAY SLAVE, an intriguing new documentary that opens in theaters this summer, Rev. C.L. Bryant journeys across America to find answers. A one-time NAACP local chapter president, Rev. Bryant discovers that by buying into the entitlement mindset of ‘progressives,’ the black community has traded one form of tyranny for another.

“Using leading black conservatives as ‘conductors,’ Rev. Bryant believes it is time for a new Underground Railroad to help liberate all Americans from the Government plantation that has left the black community dealing with a new form of slavery: entitlements.”

Some of these black conservative “conductors” describe them as Frederick Douglas Republicans.

Who was Frederick Douglas?

When the master of Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) discovered that his wife was teaching the eight-year-old slave to read the Bible, he stopped her.1 “If he learns to read the Bible it will make him ever unfit to be a slave,”2 he said. In no time “he’ll be running away with himself.”

In his later years, Douglass reflected that incident that it was the first antislavery lecture he had ever heard, and it inspired him to do anything he could to read more of the Bible. Eager to know more about the Bible, Douglass recalled, “I have gathered scattered pages from this holy book, from the filthy street gutters of Baltimore, and washed and dried them, that in the moments of my leisure, I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.”

The fact that Bible pages were in gutters while men and women were still enslaved gives some indication that the application of the Bible to all of life was not registering with a lot of Christians.

Douglas had begun to realize what his master understood — “that there was power, indeed subversive, revolutionary power, in reading and interpreting the Bible for oneself, and that the institution of slavery in fact depended on controlling biblical literacy — who can read the Bible when and how.”

Years later Douglass wrote,

“Let the reader reflect upon the fact, that, in this Christian country, men and women are hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, in order to learn to read the Holy Bible. Those dear souls, who came to my Sabbath school, came not because it was popular or reputable to attend such a place, for they came under the liability of having forty stripes laid on their naked backs. Every moment they spend in my school, they were under this terrible liability; and, in this respect, I was sharer with them. Their minds had been cramped and starved by their cruel masters; the light of education had been completely excluded; and their hard earnings had been taken to educate their master’s children. I felt a delight in circumventing the tyrants, and in blessing the victims of their curses.”3

The Frederick Douglas Republicans are reviving the spirit of the many who broke the bonds of slavery. It’s time that 21st-century blacks rediscover his history and efforts.

A ten-percent shift in the black electorate would make a huge difference in American politics that could save our Republic.

  1. Here’s how the Biogrpahy.com website tells the story: “Frederick Douglass was given to Lucretia Auld, the wife of Thomas Auld, following the death of his master. Lucretia sent Frederick to serve her brother-in-law, Hugh Auld, at his Baltimore home. It was at the Auld home that Frederick Douglass first acquired the skills that would vault him to national celebrity. Defying a ban on teaching slaves to read and write, Hugh Auld’s wife Sophia taught Douglass the alphabet when he was around 12. When Hugh Auld forbade his wife’s lessons, Douglass continued to learn from white children and others in the neighborhood.” []
  2. If he learns to read the Bible it will ever unfit him to be a slave.” []
  3. My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), 268. []