Posted on

How Frederick Douglass resonates today

Mint alumni Breonna Collins is an artist, filmmaker, student and creative entrepreneur who launched Gospel Beauty, which sells soap, accessories and other beauty items. She attends Wayne State University, where she is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in animation.

She has an active, curious mind and is always coming up with ideas and insights. So we asked her about Black heroes and historical figures.

Breonna Collins, Mint alumni

Who is your favorite person from Black history? Why does he / she resonate with you?

I have many favorite people from black history so it is too hard to say who is my single favorite. But I’ll select one for what’s going on in the world. And that person would be Fredrick Douglass.

1856 photograph of activist and orator Frederick Douglas from National Portrait Gallery

How does Frederick Douglass speak to and connect with the Black Lives Matter and other black campaigns and movements going on today?

I personally feel like organizations today would benefit from him because he could break down the meaning of what America is about. Not to mention he was a slave who freed himself and rebuilt himself. He went from being a slave to statesman. So, I believe he could teach these organizations how to get progress done. I believe he would have kicked any corrupt person out of the group. People like anarchists, extremists etc.

How do you interpret Black history in the context of today’s situation, good and bad?

I believe that Black History Month is a good month to celebrate how far Black people have gotten in America and around the world.

I think of Black History Month as a sacred month, like a sacred shrine that holds our tears, smiles, blood, pain, sorrow, laughter, our entire culture! A time where we can pay homage to the great ancestors before us who had to do the hard work to get us here. Not just black but, whites too. Black History Month isn’t just an African American thing but it’s an American thing. Because the lives we mourn, celebrate and respect this month bled to build this nation. And it’s a horrible memory that America has but, one that must never be forgotten so that it doesn’t happen again!

Learn more about Frederick Douglass in this PBS short written biography, in The Guardian interview with his biographer or watch this 7-minute FreeSchool video on Douglass’ life and journey to freedom. Follow Breonna Collins on Instagram.

Portraits used with permission.  Frederick Douglass painting © Joel Tesch.