Young Chicago Authors Reading Douglass’ Words Today

The words of Frederick Douglass ring true today just like they did 150 years ago. Watch this video to hear students from Young Chicago Authors read short quotes from some of Douglass’ famous speeches.YCA helps young people from all backgrounds to understand the importance of their own stories and those of others, so that they can pursue the path they choose and work to make their communities more just and equitable.

A Reading of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

In 1845, Frederick Douglass published his memoir “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” Sadly, 175 years later, his words remain all too relevant today.

To remind us of the depth of the pain and cruelty upon which our country was built, and how far we have yet to go to meet the true hope of equality that Douglass spent his life fighting and writing for, we present a reading of his memoir in its entirety featuring contemporary writers, scholars, and activists reading his work.

We hope that you will hear the demands for dignity today echoing the words of history, and take up the cause of dismantling white supremacy, for which Douglass had a simple command: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

Featured readers:

  • Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Poet, Founder and Publisher Emeritus, Third World Press, Educator and Institution Builder
  • Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder
  • Nora Brooks Blakely, Writer and President, Brooks Permissions; Daughter of Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Maudlyne Ihejirika, Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Layla F. Saad, Author, Me and White Supremacy
  • Angélique Roché, Cultural Journalist
  • Dr. John Stauffer, Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University
  • Jacqueline WoodsonNational Book Award-winning author & educator
  • Mikki KendallAuthor, Hood Feminism and Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists
  • Dr. Ivy Wilson, Professor of English and American Studies, Northwestern University
  • Colin JohnsonGrandson of Maya Angelou and Activist
  • Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Co-Founder & President of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass