Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama's Debt to Douglass

This November the United States will witness a historic event --- the election of our first African American President.

Almost 146 years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, America will choose Senator Barrack Obama as Commander and Chief. As historic as this event is, it is not the first time an African American has run for executive office. In 1872, Frederick Douglass was nominated as the vice presidential candidate on the Equal Rights Party ticket with Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President.

Woodhull was nominated on May 10, 1872, at Apollo Hall in New York City. Her selection was ratified at convention on June 6, 1872. Douglass was chosen for Vice President, but he never acknowledged this nomination.

This nomination is almost insignificant relative to Douglass' other achievements. Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in American history. Douglass believed that education was the key for African Americans to improve their lives and was an early advocate for desegregation of schools. Douglass conferred with Lincoln in 1863 on the treatment of black soldiers, and with President Johnson on black suffrage. Douglass believed that since the goal of the Civil War was to end slavery, African Americans should be allowed to enlist in the Union forces to help fight for their freedom.

The labors of Frederick Douglass provided the foothold on which Barrack Obama will ascend to the Presidency. I hope that the Senator will acknowledge his debt to this American legend.

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