In elementary school we had a book report due on a famous person. Into my hands, my mom placed a Frederick Douglass book. Unable to recall what I read or wrote, Douglass’ name and face are forever imprinted in me. Jettison to last week in front of Framingham McAuliffe Library’s NEW BOOK display. Facing Frederick faced me. I checked it out to rekindle long calcified synapses.

After escaping slavery from the South, dressed as a sailor, Douglass made his home in New Bedford. He married and moved to Lynn. A self-educated prolific writer and speaker, Douglass passionately believed ‘white’ and ‘black’ people (I still wish we’d reference our true colors) could live peacefully side-by-side, and therefore railed against black folks emigrating to Haiti and Africa. With his speaking engagement earnings and money from donors, Douglass started his own newspaper out of Rochester, New York, a hubbub of abolitionist activity. He travelled the world over.

I discovered a few interesting asides: Douglass played violin – especially when feeling melancholy; had a grandson who became a concert violinist; loved having his photograph taken.

I wonder how Frederick Douglass would assess our present national state as regards our ability to see the other as ourselves. How simple the solution seems – yet how achingly elusive.