Daily Archives: February 3, 2011

Speaking Freedom (HUM470)

Comrades: if you find that your reading of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative is not demanding enough then consider looking over one of his most celebrated speeches, what has come to be known as “The 5th of July Speech.” There you’ll find Douglass at perhaps the height of his oratorical powers. For example:

“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

The full text can be found on a page at the University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Project: