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Life Of Frederick Douglass Essay, Research Paper

Breaking the Shackles

If there is a theme that has been present in writings since the beginning of time, it is discrimination. Since the creation of man, discrimination has been a problem in society. The theme of discrimination is illustrated through the novel, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; the essay, Indian Civilization Vs. White Civilization; and the speech, I Have a Dream.

The theme of discrimination is clearly present in Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland around 1818. He had no accurate knowledge of his age. Douglass was born to a black mother and a white father, who he believed was his master (Douglass 19). By secretly studying books, Douglass learned to read a crime punishable by death. He escaped slavery when he was barely an adult and wrote the story of his life and how discrimination affected it.

Not only is discrimination the theme of Douglass novel, it is also the cause of his horrible condition. In his autobiography he claims he was made to drink the bitterest dregs of slavery (73). Throughout the novel Douglass never encounters a slave who is not black. Why am I a slave, Douglass asks (Douglass 73). This is surely a question asked by every victim of prejudice. Another piece that illustrates discrimination is Joseph Brant s, Indian Civilization Vs. White Civilization.

Joseph Brant was born in 1742 and died in 1807 (Barnett et al. 938). Brant, or Thayendanega, was educated at Wheelock s Indian school in Connecticut. He served the British in the French and Indian war and the American Revolution. Being a Mohawk Chief, Brant was subject to much racially motivated discrimination.

Discrimination, though most author would like you to believe otherwise, is never one sided. Indian Civilization Vs. White Civilization, looks at the reactions of those victimized by racial discrimination. Joseph Brant initially takes a defensive stand, but quickly turns to criticism of white society. In this piece Brant is obliged to give [his] opinion in favor of [his] own people. (Brant 939). He describes the white people s judicial system a pompous parade (Brant 939). In conclusion of this piece Brant never overcomes his bitterness for white people and their actions calling them tenfold more the children of cruelty (Brant 939). In addition to this essay, Martin Luther King Jr. s speech , I Have a Dream also contains the theme of discrimination.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. He was the son of Baptist Minister and was ordained to the ministry at the age of eighteen (Webb 18). Dr. King received a Ph.D. in systematic philosophy from Boston University in 1954. Unfortunately, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.

In I Have a Dream King hopes that someday in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers (King 21). If our society ever reaches this point, it will be a result of us listening to words of people like King. Someday, King says, even the state of Mississippi will be transformed into oasis of freedom and justice (King 20). King s words of hope are truly inspiring to those who are willing to accept it.

The theme of discrimination is illustrated though the speech, I Have a Dream; the essay, Indian Civilization Vs. White Civilization; and the novel, Narrative of the

Life of Frederick Douglass. At times it seems impossible for our society to overcome racism and discrimination. The only hope we have is the hope that someday everyone will think in the way that great men like Martin Luther King think. If we all have a dream in our lives, we have a great chance of living together in peace in the twenty-first century (King 19).

Works Cited

Brant, Joseph. Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Sylvan Barnet, 1996: 938.

Brant, Joseph. Indian Civilization Vs. White Civilization. Literature for Composition. New York:

Sylvan Barnet, 1996: 938-940.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc, 1997.

Douglass, Frederick. Academic American Encyclopedia. 1998 ed: 248-249.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. I Have a Dream. Readings for Writers. Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Company,

1998: 18-21.

Martin Luther King, Jr. The Resourceful Reader. Ed. Suzanne Strobeck Webb. Fort Worth: Harcourt

Brace College Publishers, 1998: 256.


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