Frederick Douglass Leadership Institute

Speeches, Plays, & Workshops from the Life and Legacy of
Frederick Douglass

Presented by Fred Morsell
Fred Morsell
Photo by Arthur A. Murphy

"Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass: His Life and Times"

(Two-act Play)
tab.gif - 0.84 KThis full one-man, two-act play covers the early life of Frederick Douglass, including his years in slavery, how and why he learned to read, and his discovery of The Columbian Orator (the book which provided the foundation for his becoming one of the great orators of the 19th century). The play presents the encounter with Covey, the slavebreaker, which gave Douglass his greatest triumph over slavery. This is followed by his escape from slavery, his introduction to the abolitionists, the purchase of his freedom, and the founding of The North Star. The following section is Douglass' tribute to women, in which he reveals how and why he became a "woman's rights man." The play ends with his challenge to Americans to become all that they are capable of becoming, through the fiery concluding words of his "Men of Color, To Arms!" speech, summoning black men to join the Northern army in 1863.
tab.gif - 0.84 KThis highly inspirational and educational play takes audiences on a journey through Douglass' life, revealing the power that enabled him to overcome the horrors of chattel slavery, carve his niche in the American dream, and become the hero whose byword, "What is possible for me is possible for you," becomes the byword for us all.

"Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass: Early Life and Selected Speeches"

(One-act Presentation)

tab.gif - 0.84 KThis presentation, which runs approximately one and a half hours, deals with the early life of Frederick Douglass, the significance of his learning to read, and his escape from slavery. The final part of the presentation offers selections from one or more of the famous Douglass speeches:

"The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro"
"The Lesson of the Hour: Why is the Negro Lynched?"
"Why I Became a Woman's Rights Man"

"Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass" Benefit Performances

tab.gif - 0.84 KBenefit presentations of the play and speeches performed under the title: "Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass" (PMDF), are an excellent means to raise funds for special projects of schools, churches, civic groups and service organizations, because the life of Frederick Douglass reverberates with the message that freedom , hope and opportunity through enlightenment are the keys to success. Many community, church, fraternal, military, foundation and business organizations are looking for fund-raising programs that can bring greater guidance, understanding and cooperation among the diverse participants in their areas of operation. The PMFD programs are well-suited for such efforts, because Frederick Douglass stands as such a strong example of what adherence to traditional American ideals can accomplish.
tab.gif - 0.84 KCorporate or foundation sponsorship of any of FEI's presentations helps to ensure that the maximum fiduciary benefit will be realized by the benefit organization. FEI is pleased to work with any group desirous of using outside funding for such events.

"A Day With Frederick Douglass" *

(School assembly and follow up session)

tab.gif - 0.84 KThe one-act presentation can be easily adapted for elementary through high school assemblies. This format for students presents the early life of Frederick Douglass, with an emphasis on the parallels between his solutions to the problems which slavery required him to deal with, and the problems that young people today are experiencing. The realities of the effects of slavery and discrimination become clear and understandable. Young people share in Frederick's sense of loss by the separation from his family, and the attempted negation of his identity by the brutality of slavery and his slavemasters. They experience his exhilaration and victory when he discovers, through learning how to read, that he has also discovered the key to becoming truly free and successful.
tab.gif - 0.84 KThe emphasis in this presentation is on the three keys that young Frederick consciously sought to embody in all aspects of his life:

  • Believe in, have faith in, and trust in yourself.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity that is provided to you.
  • Use the power of the written and spoken word to effect permanent positive changes for yourself and the society in which you live.

Following the presentation, Mr. Morsell can conduct a discussion session with a selected group of students, either in a classroom setting or at lunch.

*Specially designed lesson plans for teachers are available for all young people's performances and workshops. These lesson plans have been prepared by FEI and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute For American History (New York).

Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass: Speeches

(For young people and adults)

"The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro"
tab.gif - 0.84 KDelivered on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, New York, this speech is considered by many historians to have been the single most effective and important speech denouncing slavery and advocating emancipation given before the Civil War.

"The Lesson of The Hour: Why is The Negro Lynched?"
tab.gif - 0.84 KThis was Frederick Douglass' last great speech, delivered on January 9, 1894 at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C., thirteen months before he died. This is also considered by many historians to be one of the most pertinent and important speeches of Mr Douglass for the America of today, which is suffering from a climate of racial divisiveness, such as has not been seen since before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.

"Why I Became a Woman's Rights Man"
tab.gif - 0.84 KThis is an edited speech, taken from over forty Douglass speeches, on the justice of and necessity for granting women full and equal opportunity in all aspects of life as men. The title derives from an 1870's article and speech on women's rights that he wrote and delivered. Douglass was one of the few prominent public men of the 19th-century to take an unequivocal stand for women in their quest for justice and equal protection of the laws and opportunity


tab.gif - 0.84 KOne-week residencies are intensive workshops that culminate in the presentation of a dramatic performance by participants, conveying their discoveries of the relevance of the Douglass principles of success for their lives today. In this program, FEI offers the Douglass Scholars Program during the first three days of the week-long residency by Fred Morsell. The final part of the week consists of the participant's compiling the scenes they have written and performed in the small group workshops into a longer one-hour play which is presented to the entire school and/or community. This program provides opportunity for a presentation that can revolve around a larger diversity related theme that a school or community might be using. Consequently, residencies using the Frederick Douglass Seminars on Race Relations and Gender Equity are particularly appropriate for Black History Month, Women's History Month, and for occasions where a multicultural theme program is in progress.


Please contact Fremarjo Enterprises, Inc for a list of fees connected with the programs outlined on this page.

Fremarjo Enterprises, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, is the organizational base for the Frederick Douglass Leadership Institute Programs on Race Relations and Gender Equity, of which the Douglass Scholars Program is a component. To receive more information about the Douglass Scholars Program, other seminars, or performances, mail, fax, email, or call:
Fremarjo Enterprises, Inc.
P.O. Box 382
Emigrant, MT 59027
406-333-4145 Fax

All original material Copyright ©1997-2012 Fremarjo Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.