Distinguished Lecturers
David W. Blight

David W. Blight

David Blight is a leading expert on the life and writings of Frederick Douglass and on the Civil War in historical memory. His most recent book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (2018), won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. His book Frederick Douglass's Civil War (1989), and his editions of Douglass's Narrative and W.E.B. Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk are widely taught in college courses. He also authored American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2011). Blight has appeared in several pbs films about African American history and works extensively with museums and other public history projects. His Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, 1863–1915 (2001), won a half-dozen prizes, including four from the OAH.

OAH Lectures by David W. Blight

This lecture is based on David Blight's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the most important African American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. As a young man, Douglass was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s entire life, from a plantation in Maryland, to his escape and education, his two marriages and complex extended family. For this biography, the first major work on Douglass in nearly 25 years, Blight drew on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted and recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers.

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