Winning Essay by Marissa Ulrich, University of Iowa

Frederick Douglass was so much more than just an escaped slave- which is only thing that people these days seem to know about him. Frederick Douglass was an author, an abolitionist, a statesman, a husband, a father, and a friend. One of Douglass's most notable friends that stands out to me is Susan B. Anthony.

Yes, Susan B. Anthony as in the champion of the suffrage movement for women's rights. Douglass did not stop fighting when the 13th Amendment was passed, most certainly with the help of his great speeches, powerful books, and his relationship with President Lincoln, but he continued to fight for justice. Douglass supported Anthony through the movement and he sought justice for women as well as African Americans. Douglass was a man who grew up on a plantation where he was beaten whenever he tried to learn. Even when he received a back slicing beating, he never set aside his thirst of knowledge- his thirst for his natural born rights. No one ever expected, when they saw Douglass, that he was a well-versed man of aptitude and raw intelligence. No one ever expected him to make a name for himself, but nevertheless he is now a prominent name of American history. Not only in his professional life was he a pillar of tolerance, but he was exemplary in his personal life as well. Frederick Douglass was the son of a slave woman and a white man. He was looked down upon for being mixed- even by his fellow African Americans. He resented the idea that color had any place in life- even in heritage. Douglass believed in this philosophy so much that years after his first wife died, he married a Caucasian woman. Douglass and his 2nd wife, Helen, were shunned for their marriage, but Douglass always insisted that marriage was about love not race. For all of these reasons, Frederick Douglass has always stood out to me as stellar model citizen. Most notably, I am grateful to Douglass for the work he has done for everyone of every color and sex. I cannot relate to his specific struggles or the weight of race inequality, but I know how imperative equality is. Not only did Douglass bring about freedom for African Americans- he brought freedom for women. I may be Caucasian, but I am also a woman. I do understand what it is like to face gender inequality and the struggles that come with that. Similar to my situation, Frederick couldn't relate to being a woman, but he could relate to being oppressed. I cannot relate to being African American, but I can relate to being oppressed. It's mind-blowing to know that Douglass did something for my female ancestors, even though he owed nothing to them. He didn't expect a favor in return though. He did it for freedom. Frederick Douglass inspires me because he is so much more than what people give him credit for. He was a beacon of equality for all.


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