Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) has been called the father of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the most influential black men of the nineteenth century. He was born into slavery in Maryland and worked on farms where he saw and experienced the hatred and the brutality of racists. Learning to read and developing his Christian faith occupied Douglass as a child. As a young man, he escaped to the North where he became a preacher at the A.M.E. Zion church in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
During the 1840s, the abolitionist or anti-slavery movement was opening many people's eyes to widespread disdain of the human rights of blacks and the manifold dangers they faced as a result. Douglass teamed up with William Lloyd Garrison who edited The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper. Enthused about the charisma and wisdom of this new colleague, Garrison convinced him to publish his biography and go on the road for a four-year stint as an eloquent anti-slavery teacher. Following the Civil War, Douglass continued to publish the North Star, his own abolitionist newspaper, to lend support to women's right to vote, and to explore the link between religious conversion and the vitalities of freedom, justice, and social reform.
D. H. Dilbeck does a very fine job assessing and then discussing the importance of the black prophetic voice to this reformer and Christian activist. Equally interesting is Douglass's struggles with the idea of a just war, the viability of armed rebellion, and his varied interpretations of the Constitution as a morally flawed document written by those who had slaves.