[By Kenton Rambsy]
I first encountered Frederick Douglass’s The Heroic Slave during my sophomore year at Morehouse College in Atlanta. At the time, I had read his slave narrative and become thoroughly familiar with his pursuits of literacy despite great social, economic, and racial barriers. Reading his novella, though, gave me a chance to reconsider the links between literacy and emancipation from physical bondage.
Douglass was an advocate for finding methods on how “to elevate the black man” and encourage African Americans to take an active, hands-on role in the political realm of their communities (77). Douglass preferred to agitate, rather than ask, for freedom. Encouraging black people to become more active agitators for liberation and self-determination was key to gaining freedom as opposed to taking a passive approach.