By: Lauren McMinn Clarke, American Red Cross volunteer contributor
Trailblazing can be lonely work. It is important to have supporters around when a groundbreaking path is forged.
|Frederick Douglass, photo courtesy PBS|
When nurse Clara Barton (1821-1912) was trying to rally national support to create an American Red Cross, she found wonderful encouragement in African American antislavery author and activist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895).
Barton had already been an avid supporter of the Black Civil Rights movement; during the war, she aided not only soldiers from both North and South, but she also aided wounded soldiers regardless of their race.
Douglass and Barton met right after the Civil War, while Barton was on a nationwide tour giving speeches about the war.
Douglass lent his support in 1882 to the Red Cross “Appeal to the American People” to raise money to assist victims of the Mississippi River floods. He continued to support Barton and the American Red Cross, becoming one of the founding members of the organization.
Some have said that Frederick Douglass's early participation in the creation of the American Red Cross paved the way for Steve D. Bullock to become the organization's first African American Acting President in 1999.
During this Black History Month, we are proud to honor the contributions of humanitarian Frederick Douglass to the American Red Cross.