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Do you have a story about how our special Bicentennial edition of Frederick Douglass's first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, impacted you?

If so, we want to hear from you!

This classic piece of literature, first published in 1845, helped change the course of the U.S. Abolitionist Movement in the mid-nineteenth century and has changed the lives of readers ever since.

We would like to feature your story on this website to help commemorate Frederick Douglass's Bicentennial year in 2018.

Please tell us what the Narrative means to you!


  • Bettie King
    commented 2018-08-20 06:47:02 -0700
    Firstly, thanks to all involved in getting this book published. Everyone needs to read this book. Mr. Douglass did a great job in showing the reader what slavery really was like. As a result all of us can better understand the challenges we face still today. Thanks for such a “awakening” book.
  • Infiniti Harrison
    commented 2018-05-08 18:57:03 -0700
    Reading this story made a huge impact on my life because it teaches me that blacks do have power within and that anything is possible if there is effort and determination within (self). I will push myself to become all that I can be, my ancestor will be proud of me one day. I came to realization, when I read that Frederick fought for blacks to be able to continue their education and that reading is extremely important. My generation won’t understand that being able to read is a blessing, learning to read will take a person anywhere they want to go and it will open doors for anyone!
  • Jean Claude Toran
    commented 2018-02-27 06:38:27 -0800
    “My name is Frederick Douglass, and in my son’s my soul does be, 200 years have passed America, did you save some cake for me?” (The Bicentennial Poet, 1976, Jean Claude Toran.
  • Paige Clark
    commented 2017-12-14 12:31:53 -0800
    To me, the Narrative of Frederick Douglass represents the true American spirit. We often times focus on the founding fathers, our presidents, or our overly patriotic citizens, however they tend to be clouded by false patriotism that is usually on the side of fascism and obeying our leaders, that may want to harm us, blindly. The true American spirit is about fighting for yourself, fighting for others, and fighting for true freedom: freedom and equal education for all.
  • Gina Mireles
    commented 2017-12-14 12:06:59 -0800
    I have always valued education and having the ability to continue school has been an honor and blessing for not only me but for my family. This narrative also motivates me in pursuing my goals. Frederick Douglass was able to take all that he was and persevere which influences me to do the same, no matter what obstacles I will face later in my career.
  • Amy Carias
    commented 2017-12-13 19:43:16 -0800
    Reading this gave me a broader view of the world and how it was made to keep people down unless we educate ourselves to rise up above it and help the others who can’t make that journey alone.

    In this day in the United States slavery is abolished and we are still actively moving away from that era of having people appear to be beneath each other based on skin color, but the fight for freedom in regards to slavery still isn’t over in other parts of the world. This book is still relevant today, whether literally with the freedom of slaves, or more metaphorically with the freedom of education.
  • Alexis V
    commented 2017-12-09 15:24:10 -0800
    Fredrick Douglass’s story is very inspiration. It teaches the importance of education and that it is never too later to further it. He teaches that knowledge is power. This book quickly became one of my favorites and it was honestly life changing.
  • Lacey Corcoran
    commented 2017-12-05 20:45:39 -0800
    After reading just the beginning of the Bicentennial Edition, it is amazing how Frederick Douglass has impact so many lives. He is a true testament to how important it is to be educated about our history in order to influence progression. In this climate, many people do not like to acknowledge the past atrocities our nation allowed and enforced. Truly, it is shameful. But just like an other area of growth, we must look at the impact such a mistake made on the lives then and today. We must fully understand the wrongs to correct and make life just and right, equal for all. I believe that the Narrative can help all recognize this issue in order for us to grow and for the youth of America to demand justice, liberty, and freedom for every man, woman, and person of non-binary gender to get upon the step they first take on American soil. Hopefully this will not only be a national pursuit, but a global one as well, for every human in entitled to dignity and respect throughout their lifetime.
  • Sybil A
    commented 2017-03-24 12:42:02 -0700
    I first read the Narrative 20 years ago. Before that, I had little fluency, if any, in African-American historical experiences, other than the brief paragraph about slavery in my grade school history book. People of African descent have a deep history in America and beyond, and continue to be invaluable members of society, so it is deeply unfortunate that what is taught in schools has been so myopic. Fortunately for me, Frederick Douglass’ autobiography beautifully and succintly personified the daily tragedies and triumphs of being enslaved, and lit a fire in me to learn more about our collective past. The book changed the trajectory of my life in that I eventually majored in African-American Studies and International Development Studies in college, traveled to Africa to visit the slave forts where Africans were stolen from their families, and live my life in a way that honors the ancestors by advocating for inclusion and fairness for all. Thank you Frederick Douglass for your bravery, your insight, and your tenacity. Your words continue to shape our world today.
  • Molly K
    commented 2017-03-08 14:40:00 -0800
    When I look at the world now, there are so many things that I would change. I assume that this is what Frederick Douglass did in his life. He saw a problem and decided to change it. Until reading The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass I never thought I could make the change that I wanted to in the world. He showed me that it is possible for me to do that, and for anyone to do that. Douglass was born into slavery. He started out in a position that most would look at and say it would be impossible for him to accomplish the things that he has. But he did. Douglass set his mind to something and he did that thing. He is a huge role model for what people can accomplish today. I think that we can use his passion, his bravery and his strategies to change the world today, and after reading Frederick Douglass’ narrative that is what I am going to do.
  • Isabella T
    commented 2017-03-08 14:37:53 -0800
    The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass is an incredibly powerful book. Before reading the Narrative, I had known that slavery had, in the past, been a thing. But after reading Douglass’ book, I gained an unclouded view of slavery in its entirety. The horror of a slave being whipped, the sorrow of singing in the woods, and the joy of escape. And arguably most importantly, the call to action, agitation, eradication. If you have not yet read this life changing narrative, I must insist that you stop what you are doing right now, get in your car, or on your bike, or lace up your sneakers and go get yourself a copy of the narrative and start reading. You will be all the better for it, I promise.
  • Julia B
    commented 2017-03-08 14:37:43 -0800
  • Julia B
    commented 2017-03-08 14:37:08 -0800
    In reading Frederick Douglass’ book I learned about the consequences of slavery to both parties (slaveholders and slaves) and discovered that education can be a source of freedom. In addition, his book showed him to be a strong example of someone who changed their future even with the challenges that were present. When fighting for the abolishment of slavery, Douglass was able to show the detrimental effects of slavery to slaves AND slaveholders. This allowed him to persuade more people to join his cause. We can also look at Douglass’ life to recognize how he fought back and disproved the negative stereotypes that were put on him. He refused to succumb to the notion that he was supposed to sit back and accept that he was a slave. In fact, Douglass states this in his book by saying, “I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” He also teaches us that education is an important part of solving difficult issues. Many others who are trying to solve current issues today also agree that education is extremely important, especially when making people aware of an issue. This is why I think others should also read his story. To gain new knowledge, a new point of view, new strategies and use these tools to work for change and fight for what they believe in.
  • Isaiah M
    commented 2017-03-08 14:37:00 -0800
    The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass means a lot to me, mainly because this book helped show the grueling nature of slavery to so many people. My father and I both are African-American. If we were born during the age of which slavery was a legal practice, we would most likely have been enslaved. Even if we weren’t enslaved, we would have been subject to terrible discrimination. I have very little doubt in my mind that if slavery was still a legal practice, we might not have been born, or at least if I were, we might wish we hadn’t. Slavery would force us to undergo tortures such as horrid beating. Frederick Douglass described one particular scenario of beating in his book.”Mr. Covey took up a hickory slat with which Hughes had been striking of the half-bushel measure, and with it gave me a heavy blow upon the head.” This very well could have been my father and I’s reality.
  • Rennie F
    commented 2017-03-08 14:32:58 -0800
    This year my class and I read Frederick Douglass’ narrative. When I was reading his book, it inspired me to work to change issues in the world, as Frederick Douglass said agitate, agitate, agitate. Whether there’s a problem in the past or present, Frederick Douglass’s concept of agitation is very prevalent to fight a problem you have. As for Frederick Douglass’s problem; he was born into slavery. Frederick Douglas knew how horrible slavery was on a first-hand account, so after he escaped slavery he fought to abolish it until his death. His narrative made me feel that if he fought slavery and defeated its blood stained chains, I could fight any problem. His story could inspire you like me, or surprise you with all he accomplished.
  • Isaac N
    followed this page 2017-03-08 14:26:44 -0800
  • Isaac N
    commented 2017-03-08 14:25:26 -0800
    When I read “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”, it showed me what a strong role model Douglass was, and how much of an impact he had on stopping slavery. He shows the bravery and courage of living through slavery. Most people nowadays think they can’t make a change, Douglass teaches people, you can make not only a tiny but a huge change. He fought hard to abolish slavery, and in return he got true freedom. Douglass wasn’t just an inspiration but a great role model. Thank you very much for creating the One Million Abolitionists project, to inspire young people with Douglass great narrative.
  • Norea
    followed this page 2017-03-08 14:21:36 -0800
  • Norea
    commented 2017-03-08 14:21:04 -0800

    To me, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” means that you can do anything, no matter how difficult your situation is. Frederick Douglass said himself that “knowledge is the pathway to freedom”. He found this out by overhearing Mr. Auld, his former slave master, talking to his wife about how “…if you teach that slave to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave”. He immediately understood that literacy was the key and decided to teach himself to read. While reading, he found out what was actually going on in the world and chose to do something about it. When I read his narrative, I was astonished that someone that had written so many inspiring and complex things, could have taught themselves to read. I encourage you to read this narrative and share what it means to you.
  • Justin T
    followed this page 2017-03-08 14:19:19 -0800
  • Justin T
    commented 2017-03-08 14:18:55 -0800
    The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass meant something to me because it was written out of pure bravery. He was sticking up for the other people who were enslaved, and people could just leave the south and catch him! That’s what made it so special for me, and why it means so much that we incorporate Frederick Douglass’ wisdom into modern life.

    The reason Frederick Douglass is a role model for America is because he was smart, brave, and very persistent. Because of this, people should try to apply these traits to their lives. Not only that, but Frederick Douglass supported other groups of people as well, such as immigrants. We should be doing that, but we just aren’t.

    That’s why reading the Narrative is important. It changes our perspective, and it helps us see what Frederick Douglass experienced.
  • Madeline S
    followed this page 2017-03-08 13:56:44 -0800
  • Madeline S
    commented 2017-03-08 13:55:26 -0800
  • Madeline S
    commented 2017-03-08 13:53:09 -0800
    After reading Frederick Douglass’ narrative, my thinking around this particular piece of American history was greatly impacted. Before reading The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, I was aware of the U.S.A.’s slave trading and slave holding history, and the man who played a large role in abolishing it. However, I didn’t realize how horrible and painful it was to be enslaved. Frederick Douglass showed me the way through the door of exploration. I welcomed him, reluctantly, and he still took me through his experiences and memories of being enslaved, showing me his own life openly. This book inspired me, and impacted the way I thought about life. Previous to gaining deeper understanding on the topic of slavery, my life was something that was okay to be thrown away. It was something I went through every day because I had to.

    Reading the Narrative gave me an insight. It was a keyhole through which I could see the world through different eyes. I saw how terrible lives were for enslaved people. I saw, and realized that my life was much more fortunate than these people’s lives. When Douglass explained his harrowing situation, it wrenched my heart out of the deep hole I had dug myself into. I began to question my reasons for complaining, and being so depressed all the time. These slaves endured much more difficult challenges, and they found comfort in ways that I couldn’t dream of. Frederick Douglass gave me wisdom I didn’t expect to find. He showed me circumstances worth living for, and things to make me more content about my own life. Knowing his story made me better, happier, wiser, and kinder. My heart rose, reading the Narrative, it grew in fullness and capacity for empathy. Frederick Douglass brought me back from the dead. Now, I feel I can truly live.
  • audrey miller
    followed this page 2017-02-02 19:53:53 -0800
  • audrey miller
    commented 2017-02-02 19:52:40 -0800
    My companion and I have an 8 yr old daughter, Kayla, who we home school. This is our 3rd year of homeschooling. I have been working on putting together a portfolio of biographical information for Black History Month and to continue teaching all year. I would love to have a copy of your book for Kayla. She loves learning. Thank you in advance for helping us teach Kayla about an extraordinary man.

    Kayla Pringle

    14 Manigault Ct

    Georgetown, sc. 29440