Black History Month: 7 notable African American political activists who predate MLK Jr.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass | Wikimedia Commons

Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass grew up to become a famous orator and advocate for the abolition of slavery, as well as other social reform causes, including integration and women's rights.

Douglass authored two autobiographies, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and My Bondage and My Freedom. He also ran a news publication known as The North Star.

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During the Civil War, Douglass advocated to make emancipation a key agenda item for the Union cause and helped to form the famous all-black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts.

"A widely known public figure by the time of Reconstruction, Douglass started to hold prestigious offices, including assistant secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, legislative council member of the D.C. Territorial Government, board member of Howard University, and president of the Freedman's Bank," states the National Park Service.

"Douglass was 77 [when he died in 1895]. He had remained a central figure in the fight for equality and justice for his entire life."

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