Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Chapter 11: Happiness and future

How does this chapter exemplify that Douglass believes people must be responsible for their own happiness and provide for their own future ?

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Douglass believed that his black brethren had an obligation to work to correct the abuses and injustice against their race. They had to build respect for themselves. Only they could change the way they were perceived. Bad behavior by one Negro reflected poorly on the whole race. The American people valued common sense and a defense of one's own rights. Douglass did not appreciate blacks who turned their backs on their obligation to one another. Douglass did identify limits, however, on this special obligation: "the obligation to be true to the black cause implied absolutely no restrictions on personal, social matters such as the choice of associates, friends, or even wife;" by the logic of its claim this type of racial loyalty would move blacks toward, not away from, other non-black progressive groups; and that it contained a "progressively self-limiting quality."