Is man free or is he not? Ought he be free or ought not he be free? The history of Black Literature provides, in my opinion, a much more illuminating account of the nature of freedom, its extent and limits, than all the philosophical discourses on this theme in the history of Western society. Why? For a number of reasons. First of all, because Black literature in this country and throughout the world projects the consciousness of a people who have been denied entrance into the real world of freedom.
—freedwoman ANGELA DAVIS, from “Lectures on Liberation.” Reprinted in her new critical edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself