After reading the guidelines of our upcoming essay assignment, I wanted to look more deeply into the writing pieces we could choose from to write about in our essay. I was very aware in Frederick Douglass’ contribution to the rights of African Americans but after reading Chapter XI Secession and War from Frederick Douglass’ Autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom 1855, I started to see how much of a role he played in getting equal treatment for African Americans enlisting in the civil war. He noticed that there weren’t many people enlisting for the war on the union side and he went to speak with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary Stanton to try and improve the treatment of African Americans so that they would enlist for the war and fight for their freedom. Douglass had three requests when he came to these powerful men for change and that was equal protection, retaliation for racial crimes done against blacks and black soldiers to have the ability to earn rewards for their war efforts just the same as any white soldier. I thought the way that President Lincoln responded to this request showed how much progress America has made throughout its history with the fact that the president wanted to end slavery entirely. After seeing Lincoln, Douglass went about meeting the Secretary of War, who he assumed would be someone of little time to listen to his request. To Douglass’ surprise and my own, he listened to him and made the promise to make great change for African Americans within the military. To see two very powerful white men doing the best for a race that for so long was pushed aside as if they are nothing was beautiful to see and is often not paid enough attention to.
In Douglass’ writing, he states, “President and Secretary of War assured me that justice would ultimately be done for my race, and I gave full faith and credit to their promise”. This line alone made me connect back to Hannah- Jones’ views of slavery within America, she doesn’t really mention how white people alongside African Americans played a roll in the efforts to better the lives of blacks in her writing. I completely agree with her views that it took African American effort to create change for the minority and that America was built off the backs of slaves. That is true, it’s within the blood, sweat, and tears of many statues and buildings we walk past every day. It’s also important to see the change that took place within the history of America when it came to the fight for humanity, not just one group. It took people to see that respect should be given to every human, not just every white man or woman. It took time for that and for it to have shown within two very strong men of power shows how much progress was happening even then.