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Making Frederick Douglass

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Making Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass taught himself to read

Frederick Douglass’ journey out of slavery and into the most powerful rooms in the country is a story of tenacity, luck and self-liberation. Hear the story of his improbable rise with Douglass’ great-great-great-grandson, Ken Morris; Douglass’ Pulitzer-prize-winning biographer, David Blight, and Emmy-award winning actor Jeffrey Wright, who’s lent his voice to Douglass for HBO and Apple Books. “He's a founding father of the American conscious.” Wright says of Douglass on Making. “That’s how I view him.”

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Frederick Douglass was just a boy when he heard his enslaver say that learning to read “would forever unfit him to be a slave,” and that was all the inspiration he needed.

“He's carrying in his pocket, bread or biscuits, and he's trading those biscuits for reading lessons,” said Ken Morris, Douglass’ great-great-great-grandson and president of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. “And the young students that I interact with, they always get it. They'll say, ‘So Mr. Morris, what you're telling me is Frederick would rather feed his mind and have his stomach go empty.’ And that's exactly what he did.”

Douglass would later escape slavery, become a fierce advocate for the rights of women and people of color, write one of the most famous anti-slavery memoirs in history and serve as an advisor to presidents, amongst many other accomplishments.

To explain his improbable journey from slavery to the most powerful rooms in the country, Making host Brandon Pope leads a conversation with Morris, Douglass’ Pulitzer-prize-winning biographer David Blight, and Emmy-award winning actor Jeffrey Wright, who’s lent his voice to Douglass for HBO and Apple Books.

“He's a founding father of the American conscious.” Wright said of Douglass on Making. “That’s how I view him.”

This season of Making covers a different, iconic figure every week. Subscribe and don’t miss an episode.

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