When we talk about African American Legends, Fredrick Douglass is one of the first people that comes to mind. As a child I idolized him and wanted to be just like him one day. He was listed by Molefi Kete Asante as one of the 100 greatest Americans. Well, who exactly was Fredrick Douglass? Fredrick Douglass was a polymath. He was an American social reformer, a writer, an orator, a statesman, an abolitionist. He stood as a living example that a slave had the same intellectual capacity of any normal human being and therefore had the right to function as full independent American citizen.
He was born a slave in Maryland in 1818. Separated from his mother at infancy, which was normal in the world of slaves, he lived with his maternal grandmother till age 7. He was moved to a different plantation and eventually given to the Auld family to serve as a houseboy in Baltimore. When he was about 12 years old his master’s wife began to teach him the alphabet despite the fact that it was forbidden to teach slaves. When his master found out, he was furious and he made his wife discontinue his education. However despite this the Pandoras Box had been opened for him. He continued to learn to read by learning from the white kids in his neighborhood and by observing their writings. One day his master’s wife caught him reading a newspaper, she snatched it from him, implying that an educated black man is something that must not be allowed to exist.