The NEH Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. The four films that are part of this project tell the remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo, from slavery to segregation.
Created Equal is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, produced in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
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Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a former slave who became the greatest abolitionist orator of the antebellum period. During the Civil War he worked tirelessly for the emancipation of the four million enslaved African Americans. In the decades after the war, he was the most influential African American leader in the nation.
He delivered this speech on July 5, 1852. It is generally considered his greatest and one of the greatest speeches of the 19th century. Before you read the speech you can follow these links to learn more about Douglass’s life and the evolution of his thought in this period.