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Frederick Douglass and the Power of Words

Professor David Blight—Yale historian and author, most recently, of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom—offered an Upper School assembly talk on Douglass and the power of his words. In this clip, Blight explains how he came to understand how Douglass converted “memory into literature, into wisdom, into pain, into the power of the word.”
“It may be a bit hard to understand today in the world you’ve come of age in, where words are ubiquitous in texts and emails and all the other means by which we get bombarded,” Blight told the students. “But words were weapons to a former slave who had no other form of power.”
 
Blight read aloud several passages from Douglass’s speeches and autobiographical narrative (which our students read in Form V history), and described Douglass’s efforts to share his life experiences and shape the rights of freed people.
 
“No one in 19th century America penetrated to this question of what slavery could do to a person’s inner self, to their psyche, to their mentality—not just to their body but to their mentality. No one had more to say on that then Douglass,” said Blight.
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Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.