Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass:  Free Human Being and Freethinker

Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning

Fall 2019

Course Description:

The most photographed person in America during the 19th Century, former slave Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was one of our great orators and writers. Friend and colleague of Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison and others, Douglass’ wisdom reaches far beyond abolition to obstacles that still stand in the way of full equality, justice and freedom.

This class will engage his personal story of liberation in body and mind as a template for addressing contemporary issues with critical reasoning and freethought.

Readings will be posted below each week.


Chris Highland is a humanist freethinker with a background in ministry, interfaith chaplaincy and non-profit work. Author of A Freethinker’s Gospel and other books, Chris also writes the weekly “Highland Views” column for the Citizen-Times. His website is

Course Outline and Readings

Week One:  Life


Streams of Freethought

Narrative-Early Life (selection)

My Bondage and My Freedom (selection)

Blight-Introduction (selection)

Week Two:  Free Body, Free Mind

Life and Times-Escape

Garrison on Douglass

July Fourth (Fifth) Speech (selection)

Lecture Career and July 4 Speech

Week Three:  Voice of Freedom

Finsbury Chapel (England) Speech (selections)

Narrative (Appendix on Religion)

Letter to Garrison

Paul Dunbar (eulogy)

Religion to Love, Religion to Hate

Growlery & Growth

Growlery and Growth