I just received this plea from my friend, Kenneth Morris, of the Frederick Douglas Family Foundation. Kenneth is the great great great grandson of Frederick Douglass, who was a close personal friend and confidant of my great great great grandfather, John Brown. After 150 years of separation, our families have reconnected and reaffirmed our dedication to eradicate slavery not only from America, but from the world. Please join Kenneth and me as we send our prayers and donations to the people of Haiti, a country that was important to both of our ancestors.
January 19, 2010
At the very moment that we believe we’ve assumed control of our own destinies – we’re proven wrong. Within the dusty images of Haiti’s crumbled buildings, we, like the victims themselves, are trapped and humbled by these forces that defy interpretation. How else can we escape this sense of helplessness we feel except by helping?
Frederick Douglass, hero of the emancipation movement in the United States, found role models amongst Haitians. The people we’ve seen so often as casualties of natural or manmade calamity are in fact proud descendants of “the original pioneer emancipators of the nineteenth century.” Douglass said, “Until Haiti struck for freedom, the conscience of the Christian world slept profoundly over slavery.
Douglass was inspired by the courage of former Haitian slaves who fought to break their chains and he, in turn, struggled to help liberate 4 million humans half a century later here in America. Douglass, who served as Minister-Resident and Consul-General to the Republic of Haiti from 1889-1891, talked about the brave island nation in his 1893 speech at the Chicago World Fair saying, “NO OTHER LAND HAS BRIGHTER SKIES. No other land has purer water, richer soil, or a more happily diversified climate. She has all the natural conditions essential to a noble, prosperous and happy country.”
Much of what guides us at the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation are the examples set by our founders’ esteemed ancestors: Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. These are two of America’s most prominent figures whose narratives were born from their dreams of lifting up others knowing that each one us craves and deserves at least a small measure of dignity and possibility. None of us has the luxury of believing that we can live independently from our neighbors; that we’ll never need a hand from friend.
Although the destruction we see in news reports appears complete, history tells us that many of the youngest survivors of last Tuesday’s quake may have just begun a long journey of misery. One favorite method of human traffickers is to sweep into regions of political chaos or natural disaster and remove lost or orphaned children. These victims are then trafficked out of the country and eventually sold for use in various forms of labor or sexual servitude.
We have been in touch with our friends, Lola Poisson, and her husband, the Haitian Ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph. Of course, now they are consumed with helping their fellow countrymen, but they have asked all us for any assistance that we can provide. Please help any of the aid organization’s you have seen in the news, but also, please take a look at the work Lola is doing with children in Haiti (www.cfgdfund.org) as another possible destination for your donation.
If you haven’t the resources to make a donation at this time, please take a moment to say a prayer for Haiti.
Frederick Douglass Family Foundation