Douglass represents the America I long for these days. The America whose strength and optimism is rooted in equal chances for everyone.
I was recently commissioned to paint a portrait of Frederick Douglass by condo owners in NYC.
The condo is located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and the portrait I painted is now hanging in the hall of the building for every visitor to see.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping slavery, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings.
He was described as a living counter-example to the slaveholders’ argument that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.
Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female (he supported women’s suffrage), Native American, or recent immigrant.
He also believed in dialoguing with opponents. When criticized about his willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied: “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
Douglass represents the America I long for these days. The America whose strength and optimism is rooted in equal chances for everyone. The America that is not afraid of differences, that doesn’t stay silent in front of the ever-changing faces of injustice.
I wish us all to follow the example of this remarkable man. I wish us to revive within ourselves that America, that poignant and universal dream of freedom, a freedom fiercely conquered by the sole power of the mind.
Prints of this work are available here.
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