Frederick Douglass was surely the most famous African-American of the 19th century. After escaping from slavery from Maryland, Douglass went onto become an outspoken leader of the abolitionist movement. Not only was he a great American, he was a follower of Jesus Christ. His commitment to Jesus played a major role in his efforts to end slavery. From his 1845 Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:
I was not more than thirteen years old, when I felt the need of God, as a father and protector. My religious nature was awakened by the preaching of a white Methodist minister, named Hanson. He thought that all men, great and small, bond and free, were sinners in the sight of God; that they were, by nature, rebels against His government; and that they must repent of their sins, and be reconciled to God, through Christ. … I was, for weeks, a poor, broken-hearted mourner, traveling through the darkness and misery of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of heart which comes by “casting all one’s care” upon God, and by having faith in Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, Friend, and Savior of those who diligently seek him. After this, I saw the world in a new light. … I loved all mankind—slaveholders not excepted; though I abhorred slavery more than ever.
He never knew the exact date of his birthday, but later in life, he chose February 14 to celebrate. Before his mother died when Douglass was about eight years-old, she called him her “little valentine.” Born in February, 1818, he would have been 199 years old today.
Just in case anyone is confused, Frederick Douglass is no longer living, as he died in 1895.