Frederick Douglass: Civil rights activist, politician and newspaper publisher

By Paul Gorski

Frederick Douglass (1818-95) was an important civil rights activist, politician, and newspaper publisher during and immediately following the American Civil War. I may have heard of Douglass in high school, but it was not until I took a college course on the Civil War when I learned to admire him. Douglass was a leader, not only in the anti-slavery movement, but was also an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.

Douglass, an African-American, was born into slavery, but escaped after some failed attempts. Soon after escaping slavery, Douglass participated in abolitionist meetings and became a well-respected speaker on the anti-slavery movement. Douglass then wrote the first of three autobiographies, which contributed to his growing popularity and respect throughout not only the United States but also the world.

Douglass subscribed to and read the popular abolitionist newspapers of the day and was inspired to start his own newspaper, The North Star. The North Star’s motto was “Right is of no Sex–Truth is of no Color–God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” The North Star, later Frederick Douglass’ Paper, became one of the most influential anti-slavery newspapers of the day, cementing Douglass’ leadership in the anti-slavery movement.

I respect the power and importance of newspapers and especially admire Douglass for using his newspaper to promote his civil rights agenda. Douglass contributed significantly to the national dialogue on slavery. Thank you, Mr. Douglass.

Douglass remained popular and influential after the Civil War. In recognition of his talent and wisdom, Douglass was appointed as U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia (1877-81) and U.S. minister of Haiti (1889-91).

Watch videos and learn more about Frederick Douglass at and

Paul Gorski is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper. He can be reached via email at

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