Once again those lovely Episcopalians have come through when it counts.
On this day in their liturgical calendar, the 20th of February, they celebrate the life and work of Frederick Douglass as a feast for a saint.
While I tend to prefer to acknowledge special and holy people on their birthdays the Christian liturgical calendar in all its variations tends to celebrate their lives on the anniversary of their deaths, the time they go to their glory. And I admit as a marker of the totality of their lives it works just fine…
Also for Douglass, as there is no certain record of his birth, other than the belief it took place in February, as well – there’s additional poignancy in trying to find the right day to observe his life.
Born a slave, probably in 1818, he acquired the rudiments of an education surreptitiously, and then escaped bondage. He became one of the foremost abolitionists, an eloquent writer and an even more compelling speaker.Later in his life he would be a prominent advocate of women’s suffrage, and spoke out frequently on the dignity and rights of immigrants.
A moment to consider his religious views seems in order on a day celebrated as a feast in the Christian calendar, or in one version of it, anyway. He appears to have seen himself as a Protestant Christian, although I take some delight in the view held by some scholars that in many ways he held views that anticipated contemporary liberation theology.
Seems about right…