I Won’t Call it Insomnia


Andy keeps blowing the candles out. I guess it beats a fire.

I woke up at 3am feeling a tad too awake. Pressed PLAY on the remote to pick up where I left off with Amazing Grace. It usually takes me 3 or 4 sittings to get through a disc — there’re just too many better things to be doing usually. My first sitting of this movie got me through the opening credits. So it was a reasonable assumption that giving it another go might help me fall back to sleep.

It absolutely did not put me back to sleep. Quite the opposite. Add “Queue Maintenance” to the list of Andy’s strengths. Amazing Grace makes perfect viewing to put me in the mood for writing my Amnesty letters later today. It is a little Disneyfied–the settings almost too picturesque, the quotes almost too poetic–still, I’m sufficiently moved. After one hour of viewing, I was more awake than ever and couldn’t resist the urge to write. Not a bad quality in a movie.

The eloquence of the characters reminds me of how awestruck I felt when I watched a documentary a few years ago that touched upon Frederick Douglass’ involvement with the women’s rights movement. My high school was named “Frederick Douglass” but back in those days, I was too busy memorizing pom pon routines to ever learn anything about him. Oh, I take that back, I did learn how to spell his name — “D-O, D-O-U, D-O-U-G-L-A-S-S, Doulgass is Number One, Get it, Get it, Uh-Huh.” Yes, there were cornfields on either side of the football field. I’ll be the first to say it, That’s all my cracker-ass-self bothered to learn about Frederick Doulgass in high school.

It took until well into my adulthood when I rented the previously mentioned documentary to get my first waking glimpse at how brilliant Frederick Douglass was. The movie was mostly about Elizabeth Cady Stanton & her colleagues. I fell completely in love with her. We’re talking “Name my Fantasy daughter Cady or my Fantasy son Stanton (even though Stanton sounds a little too Texas) in love”. I was That Passionate. For four and half days.

What I remember now that years have passed since having seen the film is not so much about Stanton but rather how succinct and powerful the words of Douglass were.

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” — Frederick Douglass

Such a good one. Here’s another:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” — Frederick Douglass

Note to self: Read more of Frederick Douglass’ work.

So now that it’s nearly 6am, I’m thinking sleep would be a good thing.

Thank goodness today is Saturday.

6 thoughts on “I Won’t Call it Insomnia

  1. you mean the names of high schools aren’t just like someone who gave a lot of money. and i’m of the opinion that you can never, ever, never sound too texas. not even if you used the name houston austin remember the alamo for your imaginary child.

    it’s interesting to think about all the people, places and events i’m familiar with, but have no real idea about what or who they really are. i can picture frederick douglass, and i have a general idea of when he lived, but his actual contribution, i’d have to struggle to put more than a sentence or two together.

  2. That’s really interesting – I have noticed this recently as I have been learning more about the history of Los Angeles. I get more of a thrill driving down Temple St knowing about the man it is named after. He isn’t anywhere as inspiring as Frederick Douglass though!

  3. Ruth,

    I honestly don’t think we were taught too much about him. I wasn’t learning cheers or routines and I don’t remember really learning much about him until an African American history class in college. I think my favorite Frederick Douglass quote is “Without struggle, there is no progress.” He was a fascinating man with a fascinating history. His autobiography is on my list of things to read. There are so many forgotten heros and heroines of The Women’s Right’s Movement….Henry Blackwell/Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul (my personal favorite), Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Roosevelt and JFK to name a few.

  4. Jenn – I guess we turned out okay regardless of the curriculum, huh? Thanks for the list, I can’t wait to look them up. I had made a note years ago to learn more about Red Emma, but I can’t remember why. Thank goodness for the internet – we have inspiration at our fingertips. Let’s see . . . (back 20 minutes later) . . . Emma Goldman . . . what a woman!

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