What the Black Man Wants: a Modernization of Frederic Douglass's Speech

I am Frederick Douglass. I was born a slave, but I know now that I will not die, beaten and bruised as one of my colour. I have taught myself to read and write[1], and I have endured all the hardships and the disadvantages to being born a slave. Because of all that, I am now a free man. I am here in front of you today, in this Congressional session, to speak of freedom, equality and the bare privileges that come with being a free American. I am here to speak about what the black man wants.

What is happening in America today is a complete injustice. If the American would only look at his actions, he would be able to see the double-standards that he practices. The Negro may have been given his freedom, but is he really, truly free? Does a free man have someone else decide how he lives his life? Does a free man get placed in a job, and get paid what someone else wants to pay them? Does someone else choose who leads a free man’s country? The answer may be obvious, but to us, the line is blurred. The black man may be “free”, but he certainly isn’t free to do what he wants.

      We are true Americans. As true as any other person of any other color. Yet we do not have the same rights as others. It may seem surprising that we now demand the right to vote, so soon after we have abolished slavery, and been given the right to work. If we do not bring ourselves up to meet the standards of the white American, then this treatment that we have worked so hard to obtain will not last. Those that still feel contempt towards us will only prosper, and if this is allowed, we will be hated for generations to come. We can not go on thinking that abolishing slavery is enough. The white man was never enslaved, but just freeing the Negro doesn’t make them equal. We must fight to bring ourselves up. We must fight for true equality!

      The right to vote is not only there to bring ourselves to the same level as the white men of the United States; it is so that the black man can...