Most Influential Black American Leaders of All Time

Frederick Douglass

There are few celebrated African-American leaders who could authoritatively speak on slavery and freedom as personally and philosophically as Frederick Douglass. A runaway slave and staunch abolitionist, Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845, remains one of the most significant slave narratives ever produced. A gifted orator, Douglass spoke out against slavery in the United States and abroad. As publisher of several newspapers, including his most well-known, The North Star, Douglass was an early advocate of the African-American press and a strong believer in education and the written word.

Unlike many in his time, his concept of equality extended to women as well, making him one of the nation’s most prominent male supporters of women’s rights. Following the Civil War, Douglass held several political positions, including president of Freedman’s Savings Bank, chargĂ© d’affaires for the Dominican Republic, U.S. Marshal and consul-general to Haiti.
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