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Donald Trump Silver Linings: How The President Inadvertently Taught The Nation About Black History

His fumble had people furiously Googling who the famed abolitionist was

There were plenty of things to find distasteful about President Donald Trump’s Black History Month address (among them the fact that he used it as an opportunity to boast about his election victory), but none more disconcerting than his apparent unfamiliarity with the work of Frederick Douglass. In his incoherent speech, Trump made these remarks about the famed black abolitionist:


I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.

Does it … almost … sound as if the president of the United States doesn’t know who Frederick Douglass is? Does it also sound like he might be under the impression that Douglass … is still alive?

Douglass, in fact, died in 1895, and his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, is a pretty common fixture in K-12 school curriculum. It’s one of most well-known texts of the slave abolitionist movement, and one of the most important pieces of American literature. But it makes sense that he wouldn’t know of it, given that the president doesn’t really read books.

Still, plenty of people in the country might not know much about Frederick Douglass, something we can blame on the failure of our education system, and the fact that what is termed “black history”—which is, essentially, the history of the United States as a country—is relegated to a single month of the year. There’s only enough time within that short period to teach kids about Dr. King and that one guy who invented peanut butter. This explains why “Frederick Douglass” shot up in popularity as a Google search term:

So there it is. One silver lining. Our commander in chief may be woefully ill-informed, but at least we have something to benefit from his ignorance.

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