douglassBy John D. Pierce

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk today?

FD: Sure. It’s been awhile since I’ve done an interview.

Q: Well, what do you make of this newfound attention?

FD: We’ll, it’s a bit surprising, but it seems some of the things I’ve been saying for longer than a whole century needs repeating.

Q: We’ve heard lately that you are an “example of somebody who’s done an amazing job.” Can you tell us a bit more about what others might consider amazing?

FD: My bio usually states that I went from a slave to a statesman. I never claimed to be a statesman. But there is plenty of reading one can do to discover much that I said and did for the cause of freedom. Hopefully, those things are being read more today.

Q: You equated education with emancipation. Does that mean one can be a prisoner of ignorance?

FD: Or to put it another way: Education means the uplifting of the soul into the glorious light of truth by which one is made free.

Q: Yes, that’s a better way of saying it. There’s a lot of talk today about getting along despite differences. What criteria do you use for choosing collaboration?

FD: Just one: I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.

Q: People in the minority often turn away and turn inward without much hope. What perspective might you offer to encourage them to be steadfast and hopeful?

FD: The person who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe.

Q: Years ago, you had the ear of a president (Lincoln). What might you whisper into the presidential ear today?

FD: Oh, the same thing I said more than a century ago: The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.

Q: As you experienced long ago, those claiming to love God and follow Jesus lined up to both defend human slavery and to abolish it. Still today there is a great divide among the religious-minded when it comes to issues of freedom and justice. Are church people helpful or harmful when it comes to needed social change?

FD: Both. And God is most glorified when there is peace on earth and goodwill toward all persons. And true Christianity — which comes from above — is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy.

Q: That hypocrisy seems to be hardest part. You’ve written and spoken a great deal about hope and you revealed such hope — and what you called the faith of your soul — in the struggle for the freedom of slaves. Why did you believe so deeply that the abolitionist cause would triumph?

FD: Because truth is of no color. God is the father of us all.

Q: Well, thanks for taking time to talk. It would be good to hear from you “more and more.” Perhaps I’ll follow you on Twitter.

FD: How about just following the long and winding road of justice instead? Looks like there are some potholes and roadblocks still ahead.

 

(Note: The non-snarky responses in this conversation are based on quotes by Frederick Douglass from various speeches and writings selected for a Feb. 3, 2015 tribute published by The Deseret News.)

John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce is editor of Nurturing Faith Journal — the signature publication of Baptists Today, Inc. He is also publisher of Nurturing Faith Books and Resources. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates.