Recordings of Frederick Douglass Speeches, by Fred Morsell
| "Frederick Douglass's Greatest
a spoken word, audio series produced by TBM Records and delivered by Fred Morsell
NEWS Lesson Of The Hour, and The Meaning Of The Fourth Of July for the Negro are featured in the February 1997 Ebony Magazine.
Following his one man, two act play performance, members of the audience
frequently say to Fred Morsell, "I so enjoyed your performance, it was
rivetting. I kept wondering, though, what did Mr. Douglass's speeches
In response to such curiosity and in order to give listeners the opportunity to hear the splendor of Frederick Douglass's wisdom, spirit and intelligence, TBM has produced a spoken word audio series Frederick Douglass's Greatest Speeches.
|Audio Cassette||ISBN 1-883210-00-3||$11.99|
|Compact Disc||ISBN 1-883210-01-1||$13.99|
|Audio Cassette||ISBN 1-883210-02-X||$11.99|
|Compact Disc||ISBN 1-883210-03-8||$13.99|
The Lesson of the Hour was first delivered at the historic, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan African American Methodist Episcopal Church on Sunday, January 9, 1894. One hundred years later to the day, the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church invited Mr. Morsell to reenact the speech. The performance was reported on the front page of The Washington Post the next day, resulting in Bill Moyers' inviting Mr. Morsell to return to Washington to film the speech for the February 1994 Bill Moyers Journal. Both somber and electrifying, The Lesson of the Hour exposes the injustices, frantic rage and savage extravagances exacted upon the Negro after the Civil War.
Of Mr. Morsell's performance, The New York Times said, "Even 100 years later, sadly enough, the speech goes to the very heart of the black experience in America. The standing ovation given to Mr. Morsell, whose sonorous voice stems in large part from his background as a lyric baritone, is clearly and deservedly heartfelt."
It was during the Chicago World's Fair of 1892, also known as the Columbian Exposition, that Frederick Douglass began writing The Lesson of the Hour: Why Is The Negro Lynched. Two events conspired. The Columbian Exposition was lily white and gave no mention and accorded no honor to a single African American man or woman. Frederick Douglass was enraged and despondent that the rights and justice so sorely fought for during the Civil War, and aspired to during Reconstruction, were being overridden by an epidemic of mob violence, racism and color prejudice. While in Chicago, he also met the brilliant, brave and black anti-lynching crusader and journalist Ida B. Wells who told Douglass first hand of the vicious lynchings taking place throughout the South. Miss Wells encouraged and rekindled in Douglass the fire to write one last, great speech. He did and, at age 76, one year before his death, delivered The Lesson of the Hour: Why Is The Negro Lynched, a powerful, passionate and incisive speech which describes the persistent causes of racism and color prejudice in America--and proposes a solution: justice!
A remarkable synergy existed between Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth
Cady Stanton and 19th century America's abolitionist and suffragist women.
To hear Douglass's defense of women's rights and his tribute to the women who shaped and shared his life is to feel we have been touched by the mighty spirits of many indomitable women and by the soul of Frederick Douglass.
Hear a Real Audio Clip ! |
Recorded March 29, 1995, released August 26, 1995
Since his portrayal of Douglass in the CBS Bi-Centennial special, We, the Women, Fred Morsell has been intrigued by Frederick Douglass's support of women. Producer Tanya Bickley finds Mr. Douglass's vision of men and women as co-inheritors of the earth, its responsibilities and its rewards a welcome message and one to be enjoyed by women and men. Together Mr. Morsell and Ms. Bickley spent over a year choosing from 50 years of Mr. Douglass's writings on women. Mr. Morsell then forged the choices into one stirring and comprehensive piece, Why I Became A Woman's Rights Man, an actual Douglass speech.
In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Mr. Morsell delivered Why I Became A Woman's Rights Man at the Ford's Theatre, The Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York and at Smith College the weekend of August 25th, 1995. Simultaneously, TBM released Why I Became A Woman's Rights Man on August 26th to honor the signing of the 19th Amendment and Mr. Douglass's historic role in that process. .
This speech introduces the listener to a reflective and tentative Frederick Douglass not known to many. With his accustomed oratorical skill, Mr. Douglass outlines the historical Raid on Harper's Ferry, its philosophical underpinnings and pays generous tribute to to the honorable and heroic John Brown whom he could not join. However, criticized roundly for not accompanying his friend John Brown to Harper's Ferry, the Frederick Douglass one hears in this speech is travelling on humble and different turf. Thus, the sometimes less than ringing phrase, a hesitation here or there, the occasional uncertainty on how to pay tribute, the desire to take no credit, the wondering about the outcome if he had been there reveal a Frederick Douglass suffering perhaps from guilt. We learn a lot about John Brown--and Frederick Douglass.
In one of the most eloquent speeches of his career, Douglass, on behalf of the black men and women of America, pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln at the Unveiling of a statue of Abraham Lincoln commissioned by and paid for by the Freed Men and Women of Washington, D.C. and other parts of America. Stung by white America's continued refusal to accord to black Americans the respect and humanity due them, Douglass, yet again, by the depth of his heart, brilliance of his mind and oratory shows himself a patriotic American thinker. He describes the personal, historical and political conditions and limitations which Lincoln transcended to become a president for all the people. Professor Gabor Boritt, Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg, believes Douglass's speech one of the finest Lincoln tributes ever written.
With the erection of the "Emancipation" statue, Lincoln Park, known for many years as Lincoln Square, was the first site to be dedicated to the memory of President Lincoln. Located a mile distant and directly east of the centerline of the U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Park extends between 11th and 13th Streets, N.E. and is intersected by Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee Avenues. The site was owned by one of the original patentees, George Walker, who sold his 6-acre plot the Federal Government in 1791. During the Civil War, it was the site of the "Lincoln Hospital." Following Lincoln's assassination, Congress authorized the site to be named Lincoln's Square, memorializing the late President. The shock of Lincoln's death fell heavily upon the newly freed slaves, and some took immediate steps to indicate their feelings by the initiation of a fund-raising campaign to erect a memorial in his honor.
A freed black woman from Virginia, Charlotte Scott, donated the first five dollar "greenback" for a memorial to the Western Sanitary Commission of St.Louis, which had accepted the trust. A statue of Lincoln and a kneeling freed slave, executed by American sculptor Thomas Ball was dedicated on April 14, 1876.
A sculptor whose work had a marked influence on monumental art in the U.S., Mr. Ball also sculpted the equestrian statue of George Washington situated in Boston's Public Garden. [Information on Lincoln Park provided courtesy of the National Park Service.]
Mr. Morsell delivered Douglass's Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln at the Freedmen's Monument as part of the 1995 Douglass Centennial Celebration.
Mr. Morsell delivered On Our National Capital in Washington, D.C. in September 1995 as the final event of the National Park Service's year-long celebration of the Frederick Douglass Centennial. At the conclusion of his performance, Roger Kennedy, Head of the National Park Service, presented Mr. Morsell with one of the five original copies signed by President Clinton naming 1995 the Frederick Douglass Centennial Year.
The Frederick Douglass's Greatest Speeches recordings are available directly from:
Victory Audio Video Services
Telephone: 310\416-9140, ext. 274