In the Summer of 1857, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech that became a landmark on the path to Abolition, and a signpost on the road to the Civil War. Reduced to its essence, If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress.
Douglass tied the plight of enslaved African Americans to that of oppressed people through history in many places. Through all history, he said: “The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate 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, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
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