Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was the leading spokesman for blacks of his time and an American of inestimable value.

When he spoke at an abolitionist meeting in Richmond on October 6, 1843 he got pelted with eggs.

The Richmond Palladium denounced the action as “disgraceful.”

The paper did not mention the speaker’s name but Douglass named the city in his 1881 autobiography and targeted Richmond specifically.

Thirty-seven years later he returned.

He arrived at the depot with about 300 followers and recieved a “grand” ovation. He was then asked to speak at Phillips Hall [site of the license branch, northeast corner of 6th and Main].

As one of the most important men in America looked into the Richmond audience - not too far from where he had been disgracefully pelted with rotten eggs - he saw a sea of upturned faces “beaming with that happiness only vouchsafed to the free,” glad he had attained liberty.

Douglass said, “Thirty-seven years ago I appeared in your midst. My back was all covered with gashes from the slave driver’s whip; clubs and canes had produced great scars on my head… When I came into your streets I was pelted with eggs by unsympathetic fellow beings. But now, how changed the scene around me! I am accepted!”

Frederick Douglass’s final experience in Richmond was healing.

Richmond is tainted with the shame that Frederick Douglass was persecuted here, but he forgave us.



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June 19, 2012