Sure, our initial thought of him is slave, fugitive slave and abolitionist.
But even Douglass, who most whites wanted to keep as dumb as a rock, was smart enough to know as a young man that the peculiar institution called slavery was America’s most noticeable “birth defect” (a phrase coined decades after Douglass‘ death by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice).
The Lincoln-Douglass relationship is a true event that reflects the potent realities of America’s politics, and a time in our history when things were at once black and white.
Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which claims to zoom in on the raw power of Republicans and Democrats, could have easily been titled “Here We Go Again,” since the plot certainly proves that while the names of the players change much else remains the same in Washington.
Ditto, by the way, “Django Unchained,” the Quentin Tarantino slave-era movie which takes place a couple of years prior to the Civil War and premieres Christmas Day.
I suspect the first draft that gave the Douglass-Lincoln a look is still out there, though I confess I hardly know who could pull it off.
Should Spike Lee get a nudge or should he be urged to visit Cedar Hill to take in a different view, as Douglass himself did?
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.