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A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175621

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175621.001.0001

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Douglass’s Declarations of Independence and Practices of Politics

Douglass’s Declarations of Independence and Practices of Politics

Chapter:
(p.135) 5 Douglass’s Declarations of Independence and Practices of Politics
Source:
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass
Author(s):

Robert Gooding-Williams

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813175621.003.0006

This chapter takes Frederick Douglass’s work My Bondage and My Freedom and brings it into conversation with W. E. B. Du Bois’s essay collection The Souls of Black Folk. This comparison is intended to complicate the traditional understanding of African American political thought by looking at Du Bois’s reliance on the authority of Douglass in his critique of other black leaders, such as Booker T. Washington. This reliance has caused the two to be lumped together as assimilationists despite the fact that Douglass shows himself to be more a reconstructionist than an assimilationist. Also contrasting the two, this chapter takes a critical look at Du Bois’s defense of the politics of expressive self-realization, which is predicated on the anomaly theory of white supremacy, and shows how Souls argues against this expressivist viewpoint and reveals white supremacy as a nonanomalous form of domination. Furthermore, the chapter describes plantation politics and the ramifications of it for unfreedom and struggles to achieve the free life.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, African American, politics, The Souls of Black Folk, My Bondage and My Freedom, plantation politics, rule, nondomination, race consciousness

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