“Power to the People” Fred is named after the abolitionist and reformer Frederick Douglass. He’s a tall guy with long dreads. This Vietnam War era veteran was born and brought up in Motor City–Detroit. He moved to New York right after the Million Man March and fell in love with this city because of its diversity and rich cultural heritage. Fred is retired now, but he spent many years working to improve the living conditions of New York’s marginalized residents across all the boroughs.
He lives on the Lower East Side, close by to where I live. Fred’s great love is poetry, especially the legacy of the great African-American poets like Langston Hughes.
He regularly produces and promotes local poetry readings in neighborhood bookstores and coffee shops and mentors and encourages young writers and poets to perform and express. Whenever I talk to him, the light bulb in my head lights up. He introduced me to contemporary poets like Amiri Baraka and cool underground bands.
How I Met Fred
I met Fred one night at the local pub. He was talking to Pete–our regular bartender. He was so enthusiastic that I just had to introduce myself. He was passing out postcards for a Black History Month poetry slam down at the Lower East Side poets’ cafe. We bought each other drinks and we talked about his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. We talked about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. It was really a great discussion of how people can change the course of history together.
- Favorite Accessory: Blank book.
- Favorite Drink: Plain coffee without the fancy flavors.
- Life Ambition: Bring the “aha” moment to as many people as possible.
- Favorite Quote: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Frederick Douglass