This is the final series on the successful strategy of Frederick Douglass, our country’s greatest American Dream Story:

  •            1st Editorial - (1) Listening to the Stories and (2) Savoring the Songs (published on March 1st)

  •          2nd Editorial - (3) Becoming an avid reader and (4) Courage to Act (published on March 8th)

  •         3rd Editorial - (4) Passion for Serving and (6) Unmatched Work Ethic

    Passion for Serving

    At age 19, Frederick Douglass, while enslaved, taught other slaves to read and write. He wrote, “I held my Sabbath school at the house of a free coloured man… I had at one time over 40 scholars, and those of the right sort, ardently desiring to learn. They were of all ages, though mostly men and women…, beside my Sabbath school, I devoted three evenings in the week, during the winter, to teaching the slaves at home.”

    Douglass possessed a serious commitment to the educational and social development of slaves. To be sure, he desired for them to be enlightened from the darkness of ignorance and delivered from the captivity of slavery.

    Douglass believed and put into practice the concept of “servanthood” or serving others. Impacting the lives of illiterate slaves, Douglass served the slave community by sitting next to them in the classroom and living beside them. Could it be that Douglass is giving us the solution to the blighted conditions of our public school system?

    For example, when Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, he challenged Israelite families to move back into Jerusalem, the community of need. Nehemiah stated:

    “Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.”  -Nehemiah 1:1-2 (NASB)

    Like Douglass, Nehemiah’s suggestion for a tenth of the families to move back to Jerusalem provides a practical solution to the problems that reside in the urban context. The exodus of the black middle-class from urban neighborhoods severely crippled its social unity and economic stability. It is crucial to the restoration and reconciliation of a neighborhood that high achievers return to urban communities.

    In short, Frederick Douglass was a “high-achieving” neighbor. While living among the slaves, Douglass starting his tutoring ministry ─ teaching many slaves to read and write and obtaining their freedom.

     Douglass wrote:

    “I taught them, because it was the delight of my soul to do something that looked like bettering the condition of my race… And I have the happiness to know, that several of those who came to Sabbath school learned how to read; and that one, at least, is now free through my agency.”

    Douglass challenges us to impact the lives of others by being “high-achieving” neighbors, positive role models and life coaches.

    Unmatched Work Ethic

    At the age of 21, after escaping from slavery, Frederick Douglass worked many jobs until he found the one that he liked. He wrote: “I prepared myself to do any kind of work that came to hand. I sawed wood, shoveled coal, dug cellars, moved rubbish from back yards, worked on the wharves, loaded and unloaded vessels, and scoured their cabins. I afterward got steady work at the brass-foundry owned by Mr. Richmond.”

    In his lecture on “Self-Made Men,” Douglass emphasized the importance of work as it related to the upward mobility and economic empowerment of Black Americans. For Douglass, work was the key ingredient in the formula for success for anyone who desires to overcome oppression. Douglass declared:

    “We may explain success mainly by one word and that one word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting, and indefatigable work, into which the whole heart is put…”

    The advantage of understanding Douglass’ strategy for success is that it empowers youth to approach employment with the right perspective. In other words, volunteer work, part-time work, and full-time work are stepping stones ─ not stumbling blocks - to achieving entrepreneurial dreams.

    No job is a dead-end, but every job is an opportunity to work with people, to be trained by a mentor, solve problems, develop patience, and prepare for business ownership. Douglass’ Unmatched Work Ethic will equip youth with the ability to become valuable co-workers, productive employees, and successful entrepreneurs.

    Be it remembered, at the time of Douglass’ death in 1895, he amassed $300,000 in savings. That is equivalent to over $10 million in today's money.

    A former member of President Trump’s Coalition Advisory Board, KCarl Smith is the President and CEO of KCarl Consulting Group, empowering freedom advocates with the confidence, knowledge and skills to trump the race card. His column appears every Thursday in 1819 News. To contact KCarl or request him for a speaking engagement go to views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to