Frederick Douglass and the White Negro

Frederick Douglass and the White Negro is a documentary telling the story of ex-slave, abolitionist, writer and politician Frederick Douglass and his escape to Ireland from America in the 1840s.

Frederick Douglass and the White Negro
Frederick Douglass and the White Negro.png
Directed byJohn J. Doherty
Produced byCatherine Lyons
Written byJohn J. Doherty
StarringMarcus Valentine
Aaron Edo
Fred Lawal
Matilda Edo
JohnLuka Doherty
Narrated byJohn J. Doherty
Music byCyril Dunnion
Gerard Meaney
CinematographyRonan Fox
Martin Birney
John J. Doherty
Edited byJuris Eksts
Release date
  • 2008 (2008)
Running time
52 minutes
Mural featuring Frederick Douglass in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


The film follows Douglass' life from slavery as a young man through to his time in Ireland where he befriended Daniel O'Connell, toured the country spreading the message of abolition and was treated as a human being for the first time by white people. His arrival in Ireland coincided with the Great Famine and he witnessed white people in what he considered to be a worse state than his fellow African Americans back in the US. The film follows Douglass back to America where he buys his freedom with funds raised in Ireland and Britain. Fellow passengers on his return journey include the Irish escaping the famine who arrive in their millions and would go on to play a major role in the New York Draft Riot of 1863 which Douglass could only despair over. The film examines (with contributions from the author of How The Irish Became White Noel Ignatiev amongst others) the turbulent relationship between African Americans and Irish Americans during the American Civil War, what drew them together and what drove them apart and how this would shape the America of the twentieth century and beyond.

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