Until she spoke, no Christian nation had abolished Negro slavery.
Until she spoke, no Christian nation had given to the world an organized effort to abolish slavery.
Until she spoke, the slave ship, followed by hungry sharks, greedy to devour the dead and dying slaves flung overboard to feed them, ploughed in peace the South Atlantic, painting the sea with the Negro's blood.
Until she spoke, the slave trade was sanctioned by all the Christian nations of the world, and our land of liberty and light included. Men made fortunes by this infernal traffic, and were esteemed as good Christians, and the standing types and representations of the Savior of the World.
Until Haiti spoke, the church was silent, and the pulpit was dumb. Slave-traders lived and slave-traders died. Funeral sermons were preached over them, and of them it was said that they died in the triumphs of the Christian faith and went to heaven among the just.
This segment was extracted from Lecture on Haiti, by Frederick Douglass and edited in its present form by Guy S. Antoine in July 1998.
The above piece was written originally as one unbroken paragraph excerpted from a glorious speech by the immortal Frederick Douglass, which can be read in its entirety at http://haitiforever.com/windowsonhaiti/fdouglass1.shtml .
In July 1998, I excerpted that paragraph and formatted it like a poem for my website, Windows on Haiti. The readers must have truly appreciated it because “it” took off like wildfire. Every word is from Frederick Douglass, of course, but FD had never conceived that those words would be presented in that fashion. Even President Aristide fell for it in his speech to the nation on Bicentennial Day, 1/1/2004. He said: "As Frederick Douglass wrote in his poem about Haiti..." I was listening to the speech, live, and I was stunned! There NEVER was a poem entitled "Until She Spoke" (at least not until I made it so!)
Windows on Haiti was published on April 20 1998 and therefore this was one of the first few documents I presented on the site. Here's the formatting that I used in July of that year: http://haitiforever.com/windowsonhaiti/fd19.shtml . Little did I know that I was going to change the History of African-American Literature !
The last line "This segment was extracted from Lecture on Haiti, by Frederick Douglass and edited in its present form by Guy S. Antoine in July 1998." was not present at first, because I did not realize at the time that it needed to be there. I only added it later, when I realized that even the President of the Republic of Haiti would fall for my fancy on the most solemn of days!