After spending 14 wonderful days away, we came back to our temporary home of D.C. and decided to spend our last day of vacation visiting one of the little known sites in the area.  So, just because we were just there yesterday, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about the Frederick Douglass House.

Frederick Douglass named his D.C. home “Cedar Hill.”  It is located off the beaten path some three miles south and east of the Capitol.  As its name implies, it sits high on a hill and overlooks the panorama of the National Mall with views into Maryland.  Living in this beautiful site, Douglass served as Commissioner of Washington D.C. after working for long years speaking out and fighting for freedom for slaves and the dignity of all humanity.  It was inspirational to learn that this man, born a slave, taught himself to read and write, eventually escaped slavery, bought his freedom, learned to speak and read several languages, became a powerful public speaker, and advisor to five presidents.

What remains with me from the day at Douglass’ home was the advice he gave a young man who asked the famous orator what he would suggest the young man do to further the cause of justice.  “Agitate.  Agitate.   Agitate.” were Douglass’ only words of advice.

They are words we could take to heart in our time and our day.  “Agitate.  Agitate.  Agitate.”  Never keep silence when injustice rears its head.  Agitate.  Stand up.  Speak out.  Work for the change we want to see in the world.  We are charged with the spirit of Frederick Douglass to make our opinions known.

So let us speak out when women and children are marginalized; when authority imposes dictates without so much as a question of their impact; when others choose a different life-style than our own and desire the same rights as anyone else; when gun control would bring us a greater measure of safety and sanity; when care for our fragile planet would ensure safe drinking water for impoverished peoples and countries; when any action diminishes the dignity and humanity of anyone – – agitate to bring about justice.  It is powerful advice from a man who spent his life speaking out for reforms and the freedom and dignity of all people.  There is grace in agitation.  Let us not be afraid to discover it.

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