“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
-Frederick Douglass, “West India Emancipation” speech (August 3, 1857)
Yesterday was the anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ death. In honor of his life and incredible contributions to the abolitionist movement, we wanted to share one of our favorite quotes from him. While the entire speech is worth reading, this passage, which foretells the coming American Civil War, is one of his most quoted.
Although the challenges that Acumen addresses through our work are quite different than those of Douglass and his contemporaries, his message still rings true. His words are a powerful reminder that all change, and especially the advancement of human liberty and dignity, must be a struggle. When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges (like ending poverty), we should learn from the wisdom of Frederick Douglass and remind ourselves that we must not do what is easy, but what is right. Even if that means it’s going to be a struggle.