As I researched the African American journey for civil rights throughout history, I discovered many great sources of information. Some of the best places include the Copley Square Library in Boston and the library in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street.
The libraries within the North Carolina Legislative Building and Wake Forest University have also been great sources of information. But I have to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the best source of information is the Frederick Douglass Papers in the Library of Congress.
When I discovered the Frederick Douglass Papers on the Library of Congress website, I believe I felt like the early 19th-century miners, who, after investing all their strength, energy, and youth digging into the earth and into mountains, finally struck gold
It has been years since I first discovered the Frederick Douglass Papers. But to this day, I am still amazed when I visit the website and read the hundreds of digitally preserved, handwritten letters and documents authored by the hand of Frederick Douglass himself.
These letters reveal the unedited, unfiltered thoughts and beliefs of one of greatest civil rights heroes in history. Addressed to friends, colleagues, and supporters, in them Douglass opens his heart, not only about the issues of his day but about other historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, members of Congress, and many others.
It was among this treasure trove of history where I found a letter written by Douglass in which he offers advice to a friend expressing concern about the future of black Americans. In his comments, Douglass describes what he believed to be the best place for African Americans as "the arch of safety." The arch of safety, the place of shelter and protection from storms, is described in this book.
In that same letter, Douglass issued a prophetic warning to all black Americans that graphically describes the condition of blacks in urban areas throughout America today. Douglass describes this condition as the "the mouth of the lion." Douglass's definition of the "mouth of the lion" is also found in this book.
The day I discovered the Frederick Douglass Papers was a very happy day for me. But as I read his letters, I also became a little angry because many of his thoughts and beliefs are not taught in educational institutions.
If they were, the public would know that Frederick Douglass was not only a civil rights hero--he was something of a prophet.