Book of quotations highlights work, lasting relevancy of Frederick Douglass: Publication is prelude to landmark symposium on Douglass at IUPUI
In the Words of Frederick Douglass
September 10, 2012
- Diane Brown
View Related Releases:
A new book of quotations, edited by two Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis researchers, compiles the words of one of America’s most pre-eminent 19th-century orators and writers into an easy-to-read, insightful yet critical commentary on America’s historic path.
The publication of “In the Words of Frederick Douglass: Quotations From Liberty’s Champion” is a prelude to a landmark public symposium, taking place next month at IUPUI, on Douglass as a teaching resource and research subject.
In writing “In the Words of Frederick Douglass,” John R. McKivigan and his wife and co-author, Heather L. Kaufman, have created a collection they believe demonstrates the lasting relevance of Douglass' insights and opinions.
“Douglass was not only the leading representative of 19th-century blacks; he stood for what was best in American ideals. An advocate of morality, economic accumulation, self-help and equality, he believed in constant agitation against discrimination and worked toward political and economic inclusion for all Americans,” McKivigan said.
McKivigan, Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of History, is also editor for the Frederick Douglass Papers. The Douglass Papers is one of five editorial projects in the Institute for American Thought at IUPUI, a research center of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Kaufman is a former research associate on the editorial staff of the Frederick Douglass Papers, one of the few major documentary editing projects in progress devoted to an African-American figure. Kaufman and McKivigan are also co-editors of the forthcoming “Selected Speeches of Frederick Douglass” to be published by Yale University Press in 2014.
McKivigan and Kaufman gleaned the text of their book of quotations from the speeches, journalistic editorials and essays, published biographies and correspondence of Douglass, best known historically as a runaway slave turned abolitionist in antebellum America.
“Having exhaustively mined (Douglass’s) writings, McKivigan and Kaufman have extracted a mother lode of gold nuggets and organized them topically. ... The result is truly stunning … it will inspire you to read or reread Douglass’s autobiographies, speeches, essay and letters,” John Stauffer said in the book’s foreword.
A quotation listed under “cities” is a reflection of the timelessness of Douglass’ writings.
“Great cities, like great men, have their distinctive, individual characters and qualities. While all have something in common, each has something peculiar to itself, and each makes its own peculiar impression on the outside world. New York is not Boston, nor is Boston Philadelphia; and neither one nor the other is Washington,” Douglass said in an 1877 speech.
Fast forward to December 2011, and Avner de-Shalit and Daniel A. Bell revive the argument in their book “The Spirit of Cities: Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age,” looking at nine cities, each with a “dominant, distinctive ethos.”
While best known for advocating abolition, Douglass’ role in the fight for civil rights was not limited to his call for freeing African-American slaves. After the Civil War, he was the only man to play a prominent role in the Seneca Falls convention that served as the birthplace of the 1900s women’s rights movement.
“All good causes are mutually helpful," Douglass said in an 1888 speech referenced in McKivigan and Kaufman’s book. "The benefits accruing from this movement for the equal rights of woman are not confined or limited to woman only. They will be shared by every effort to promote the progress and welfare of mankind everywhere and in all ages.”
“In the Words of Frederick Douglass,” published by Cornell University Press, is available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Copies of the book will also be available during a book signing scheduled for Oct. 4 at IUPUI as part of the Douglass symposium, titled "Rediscovering 'the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.'” The book signing follows a 6 p.m. public lecture by Yale professor David Blight, a world-renowned 19th-century historian, at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd., Indianapolis. The symposium, sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Papers, is being held to inspire new scholarship and new plans for teaching and discussing Douglass’ third autobiography.