Happy Birthday Frederick Douglass

Each Valentine’s day I remember the life of St. Valentine. I also remember the life of Frederick Douglass. Today is the day he chose as his birthday. As one born into enslavement he never knew his real day of birth.

Prophets, woman or man, have always been preachers, poets, and social critics. They speak in the language of lament and hope to give voice to love and justice. Douglas was no exception. Our world would be different without his witness. In a society where politicians want to ban his work and censor him from US history books, I’m grateful for the records that tell his story.

Banning and censorship is nothing new.

U.S. newspapers, North and South, were critical of Douglass’ speaking about slavery in Britain. They wanted him to remain silent. But a man named Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune, offered his support. In a letter Douglass wrote to him, he said,

“I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins—and he her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them. America has much more to fear from such than all the rebukes of the abolitionists at home or abroad.”

“General Correspondence 1846” (page 30)

Not only did Douglass speak prophetically to the governing authorities, he spoke to White Christians and leaders. Concerning the Fugitive Slave Law he said:

“I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it. At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness.”

“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” delivered to the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York, in 1852

I’m grateful for his birth.

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Happy Birthday Frederick Douglass

  1. Thayer Cory says:

    Fred – thank you, as always. I love your wisdom and insights.


Join the conversation, but please be gracious.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s