Biography, Black History, History, Nonfiction, Young Adult

The Life of Frederick Douglass, by David F. Walker

For the second time in two weeks I am completely bowled over by a book I discovered accidentally. I have so many thoughts right now…

With so much racial unrest happening I feel that one of the things we need to do is get at the core–its history and its reasons. Obviously, there is no one alive right now who can tell us what it was like to be a slave in the United States during the 1800’s, but when you read Frederick Douglass’s own words, you get pretty close.

I learned so much about this important historical figure who I thought I already knew. When I read about Harriet Tubman and the early suffragettes, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass is always mentioned. But until now, I did not know his personal history.

In this powerful book you learn about his entire life, from birth to death: his boyhood, his mother, his escape, his wife and children, and, of course, his determined quest to help abolish slavery.

Although it was not the custom at the time, Frederick Douglass purposefully looked into the camera when his picture was taken. He felt it showed his humanity and resolve.

This particular screen shot is one of many quotes by Douglass that made me realize the amount of guilt he often felt. Throughout his life he dealt with much internal conflict, always wondering if he was doing enough to help the slaves and always putting pressure on himself to be an example of dignity. He felt great responsibility to show others that a (former) slave is a person with intelligence and emotion, not just a piece of property to be bought, sold, and abused.

I highly, highly recommend this graphic novel to adults and young people. (Probably a mature 10 years old and older.) Although it chronicles an era of the past, its themes are still relevant. Mostly, that while many agree that change needs to happen, they differ on how to achieve that change. Until that question is resolved, how can things be different?

10/10 Stars

This book is available on, or perhaps your local digital library, which is where I found it. Just look at these amazing drawings by David F. Walker:

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