Frederick Douglass never knew the identity of his father, though he was probably a white slave owner. His mother was a slave. Frederick was taken from her soon after his birth. He only saw her a few times before she died. It seemed likely that Frederick would live out his life as a slave. But from an early age, he was determined to become a free man. He escaped to the North when he was about 20. A few years later, he discovered that he was an outstanding public speaker. For the rest of his life, Frederick would courageously speak out about the issues that affected his fellow blacks. Sometimes his actions placed him in great danger. During his lifetime no other African American did as much for blacks as Frederick Douglass. Even today his memory continues to inspire many people to work for civil rights and racial justice.