Frederick Douglass: Letter for Civil Rights Journal
Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became a leading abolitionist and social reformer, and renowned orator and writer. When too ill to continue his speaking engagements, he wrote letters of support for the anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells to take his place.
The front of this beautifully produced hardcover journal is imprinted with a facsimile of a letter Douglass wrote to Rev. R.A. Armstrong on May 22, 1894 on behalf of Wells. This letter is now housed at The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
On the back of the journal is a reproduction of an arresting antique photograph of Douglass. No detail has been overlooked in the design and production of this elegant book. It is closed by a metallic snap flap on which is embossed Frederick Douglass’s signature; the cover of the journal is embellished with an imprinted gold leaf border; the spine also has gold stamping. There is a memento pocked inside the back cover and red ribbon marker.
Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass became a celebrated abolitionist, social reformer, statesman, orator, author, diplomat, and public official.
After escaping slavery in Maryland, Douglass became famous for his incisive antislavery writings and speeches. His human rights work was dedicated to advancing the status of not only African Americans, but all groups experiencing discrimination. He was an active supporter of the women’s suffrage movement.
As the acknowledged national leader for African American civil rights, Frederick Douglass travelled and spoke extensively on the subject. When his health began to decline in the late 1800s, he continued to support the movement by championing fellow African American leaders, including Ida B. Wells. Wells was a noted anti-lynching leader, investigative journalist, and educator, as well as one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Wells, too, was born into slavery, though she was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.
In the 1890s, when Douglass was too ill to make a trip to Britain to speak on the experience of former slaves in America, he recommended that Wells tour in his place. Douglass wrote letters of support and introduction for Wells before she began her campaigns, including this one written to the Reverend R.A. Armstrong, in which he praised Wells’ character as a “brave and truthful woman.” In England, Wells quickly found sympathetic audiences, who were shocked by reports of lynching and other anti-Black violence in America.
Over the course of their lifetimes dedicated to combating prejudice and violence, and fighting for African American and gender equality, Douglass and Wells became two of the most famous Black leaders in America. When Douglass died in 1895 his torch was passed to Wells. At the time, many in the civil rights community were ambivalent about or outright against a woman leading the movement and she was left out of many subsequent historical narratives in favor of her male counterparts, including her role in founding the NAACP.
However, in 2020 Ida B. Wells was posthumously honored with a Pulitzer Prize special citation. Douglass’ works, including his autobiographies such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), continue to be widely read.
5" x 7", 144 pages; lined; printed on acid-free sustainable paper wrap closure; memento pocket; ribbon marker.