“Strong to Suffer, and Yet Strong to Strive”
Speech in Washington, D.C. celebrating emancipation (16 April 1886)
The speech finds Douglass weary, contemplating the future of African-Americans in general and wondering aloud about the next generation of civil rights activists. He notes that it is difficult to offer new thoughts on the “same subject, before the same audience.”
He even goes as far as to say that, “I wish that your choice of speaker had fallen upon one of our young men …. I want to see them coming to the front as I am retiring to the rear.” In the speech that follows, he offers advice to those who will follow him.
“I have seen too many abuses outgrown, too many evils removed, too many material and physical improvements made, to doubt that the wheels of progress will still roll on. We have but to toil and trust, throw away whiskey and tobacco, improve the opportunities that we have, put away all extravagance, learn to live within our means, lay up our earnings, educate our children, live industrious and virtuous lives, establish a character for sobriety, punctuality, and general uprightness, and we shall raise up powerful friends who shall stand by us in our struggle for an equal chance in the race of life.”
Read the full speech here
“The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition”
Pamphlet distributed at the Columbian Exposition (1893)
Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in honor of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America. The fair took place across 700 acres (that’s about 530 football fields!), and more than 20 million tickets were sold.
Yet, African-Americans could not get jobs at the fair, and were not allowed to create an exhibit showing their culture.
Douglass was one of the few African-Americans at the Exposition, he served as a representative for the country of Haiti. Angered by the discrimination, he partnered with fellow activist-writers Ida B. Wells, Ferdinand Lee Barnett, and Irvine Garland Penn.
They wrote and distributed this pamphlet together. Douglass would later write a short preface to Wells’ masterpiece about lynching, The Red Record.
Read the full pamphlet here