Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King are the most famous African American leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries. Douglass was one of the most significant figures in the African American movement, a revolutionary democrat and abolitionist. King, a Baptist preacher, was the most famous African American civil rights activist. Both leaders dedicated their lives to fighting for the rights of the oppressed population and had strategies to influence even the most conservative audiences.
Communication with the Audience
The way in which Douglass could convince his opponents was an appeal by personal example. Douglass was at first a very successful publicist, propagating his ideas in the press, providing him with many supporters (Blight, 2020). Douglass understood all the hardships of the life of the enslaved population, so he was bold enough to turn directly to Abraham Lincoln (Blight, 2020). Douglass appealed to global ideas: the thirst for freedom and love for people. Douglass’ anti-slavery activity coincided with the period in the history of the United States when this issue was at the peak of its relevance.
Critically White Ministers
One of King’s most famous speeches is his “I Have a Dream…” speech on equality and equal rights for black people. King used the same strategies to convince white ministers of the need for equality. King, throughout his speeches, appeals to the common Christian claims that all people are created equal (Ruiz, 2019). King always uses plural pronouns to demonstrate the community and strength of the black rights movement.
Analysis of African American Living Conditions
Douglass’ life was full of demonstrating the terrible situation of enslaved people; he did not need to collect information about the oppressed situation and saw everything with his own eyes. Douglass’ escape was successful only the third time, but even after this imaginary release, he was still in the position of an enslaved person (Blight, 2020). After his autobiography’s publication, Douglass’ position was exposed, and he had to flee again. (Blight, 2020). A life of deprivation, persecution, and injustice formed the basis of his persuasive activism.
Douglass and King did not have to look for special conditions for studying the situation of blacks. Both public figures grew up in an environment where blacks were oppressed and deprived of equal rights. However, King’s father was a clear anti-segregationist despite the violence against his son (Ruiz, 2019). As a child, the future consummate speaker became friends with a white boy; however, they went to different schools due to segregationist politics (Ruiz, 2019). Because of the racial humiliation, King hated the white population, but he decided to change his approach and live without hatred, inequality, and discrimination.
The relevance of the Message
Both public figures occupy an essential place in the history of the struggle for the rights of the black population in the United States. It is important to remember and share the message that they addressed to people. It is necessary to continue to fight for equality, tolerance, and a comfortable environment without discrimination for everyone without exception. Social inequality still exists, so the message of Douglass and King is highly relevant in the modern world.
Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King tried to influence their audiences by demonstrating their example and appealing to universal human values. However, Douglass initially secured his reputation as a freedom fighter through journalism and the publication of his autobiography. King took a more general approach: appealing to religious values and spiritual unity in the best aspirations. Both activists did not need to explore the conditions of African American life further since both faced its difficulties.
Two well-known public figures, Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass left their mark on the development of the movement to fight for the rights of blacks. The hard life in the conditions of slavery and the subsequent segregation policy made it possible to show by example the need to change discriminatory practices. The activists’ message is also relevant in modern times when the struggle for the rights and freedoms of minorities continues.
Blight, D. W. (2020). Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. Simon & Schuster.
Ruiz, R. (2019). Martin Luther King Jr: A Graphic History of America’s Great Civil Rights Leader. B.E.S.