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Quote of the Week: Frederick Douglass

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture


"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

- Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895). An abolitionist and author, who dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans. He has also been called the father of the civil rights movement.

Quote from the speech "West India Emancipation", delivered on August 3, 1857, at Canandaigua, New York, on the twenty-third anniversary of the event.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. 
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Submitted by Thomas R Lansner on

This of course remains true today.

Douglass had been developing--and living-- this vision for years.

The expression was also in a letter he wrote in 1849. That passage concludes succinctly explains with a dozen words that better than anywhere else explain why there must be struggle:

"POWER CONCEDES NOTHING WITHOUT DEMAND. IT NEVER DID AND IT NEVER WILL".

The full passage:

If there is no struggle there is no progress.

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.

They want rain without thunder and lightning.

They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without demand.

It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglass, 1849

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