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Dear Readers:

Discussion 1 of The Portable Frederick Douglass pp. ix - 149 is happening this Wednesday, June 23 at 7pm!  The Zoom invitation for that event is below.

We'll have Dr. Bryan Jack with us to lead the discussion and answer your questions.  

Before we begin, we have some questions for you to consider.  These include contributions from readers (thank you!), our staff, and the Penguin Random House Reading Guide:

  1. Why is Douglass able to “understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs” (p. 23-24) sung by slaves only when he no longer is a slave himself?
  2. Why does Douglass believe “Slavery proved as injurious to [his master’s wife] as it did to [him]” (p. 39)?
  1. Why does Douglass describe the sails on Chesapeake Bay as “so many shrouded ghosts” (p. 57)?
  2. When Douglass writes, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man” (p. 59), what does he understand a man to be?
  3. After his confrontation with Mr. Covey, what does Douglass mean when he writes “however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact” (p. 64)?
  4. Why does Douglass consider holiday celebrations as part of the “inhumanity of slavery” (p. 65)?
  5. “I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing.” (p. 42)  Explore this statement.   Elsewhere, Douglass refers to the Liberator, an anti-slavery paper, as his “meat and drink” (p.93). How does literacy sustain him?
  6. How is Douglass able to maintain his religious faith when that of his owners is used to justify their treatment of him?
  1. To what extent should a piece of autobiographical writing be regarded as “factual”?
  1. How has Douglass’ narrative expanded your understanding of the lived experience of slavery?  How did his story surprise you?
  1. Returning to an earlier question posed, what makes Douglass’ narrative so powerful?  Be ready to share a passage you found particularly meaningful.
  1. From one of our readers:  As I read the first section assigned for Portable FD, I keep thinking about all our current day language (ie: saying “enslaved” vs “slave,” BLM, defunding the police, etc). I mean, I think he’d be in favor of many of these efforts / evolutions of thought, but I also can’t help but think he’d be so frustrated with how little the needle has moved in terms of racial equality.  What would Douglass have to say our current situation?

See you all Wednesday evening!

Kathleen Gallagher is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Summer Reading Discussion 1
Time: Jun 23, 2021 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 924 0880 0989
Passcode: 639141
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Keynote Presentation with Bryan Jack,
Associate Professor of History at SIUE
Available online beginning May 26
Portable Frederick Douglass: Online Discussion
led by Bryan Jack
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 23

Life of Frederick Douglass: Online Discussion
featuring author David F. Walker
7 p.m. Monday, June 28

The Good Lord Bird: Online Discussion
Parts 1 & 2
7 p.m. Monday, July 26

Portable Frederick Douglass: Online Discussion
led by Bryan Jack
7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28

Portable Frederick Douglass: Online Discussion
led by Bryan Jack
7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25

The Good Lord Bird: Online Discussion
Part 3
7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30
UCPL Adult Summer Reading Blog
UCPL website
These activities are made available through funds from the Library Services and Technology Act appropriated by Congress and administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Missouri Secretary of State.

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