Monday, June 1, 2015

David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and The Underground Railroad in New York by Graham Hodges

Saturday I went for a ride with my cycling coach who just happens to be White. We cycled in a sort of remote area with few cars and quite a few inclines so, it was ideal for cycling.

As I was riding behind him, I started to think, as I often do when I interact with White people whom I like a lot, I am grateful for Dr. King who made it possible for me to cycle with my White coach. However, this time I thought, after reading The Forgotten Fifth by Gary Nash and David Ruggles by Graham Hodges, that I am grateful for the people who fault during The Revolutionary War and people like David Ruggles who paved the way for Dr. King to work on his dream "that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” Unlike what we are typical taught in schools, My people, the struggle for freedom started long before Dr. King was ever born.....

Dr. Hodges does a great job of telling the story of David Ruggles who was an abolitionist and instrumental to The Underground Railroad. What struck me the most about Ruggles is that he did not rule out the possibility of using violence when needed, he supported the idea of women being in the movement, and although he was born free and had no bad experiences with prejudice as a child, he still fought relentlessly to abolish slavery, worked against slave catchers, and helped others to freedom including The Frederick Douglass. Yes, David even housed Frederick Douglass on his way to freedom.

At the young age of eighteen, Ruggles moved from Connecticut to New York and eventually opened a small shop that sold products that were not manufactured by slaves, he became a writer and traveling public speaker against slavery, owned a reading room and emphasized “reading and writing as expressions of freedom,” and went on to own a hospital where he personally cared for patients while he was going blind and sick.

Reading David’s story, I thought a lot about the late, great Malcolm X. David stated that “we can recommend non-resistance to persons who are denied the protection of equitable law, when their liberty is invaded and their lives endangered by avaricious kidnappers.” Doesn’t this sound familiar to a statement made by Malcolm X: "The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he's within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don't think he'll be by himself.”

Malcolm X

The struggle eventually got to David, and he ended up blind and sickly and died at the tender age of thirty-nine, but he accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. His life was short but wide.

This man lived a courageous life, and his name should be called regularly in households and schools all across America. I am grateful to Dr. Hodges for his research and bringing David into our homes, minds, and lives.

Long Live David Ruggles....


I’ve started to reread an oldie but goodie: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass written by himself. Join me if you dare....

Summer 2015 is going to be good discussing these incredible books!

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