Featured Interview: Dr. Frank L. Douglas, author of the July 2019 Book of the Month

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Featured Interview: Dr. Frank L. Douglas, author of the July 2019 Book of the Month

Post by kandscreeley » 09 Mar 2019, 16:15

Hello out there my fellow bibliophiles. Today I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Frank L. Douglas author of Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream.

To view the official review, click here.

To view the book on the bookshelves, click here.

If you'd like to look at the book on Amazon, click here.

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1. Your book, Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream, is a memoir. Without revealing too much, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Georgetown, British Guiana (Guyana) in 1943 and for several years lived with my mother and siblings in one room of a four room flat. An aborted contemplated suicide attempt at age 12 was the turning point in my life, both in terms of dealing with inequities at home and joining the evangelical church. Through the kindness of my mother’s friends I entered Cambridge Academy High School where I rapidly distinguished myself as a student, placing first in two examinations in Guyana. This performance landed me a scholarship to attend Queens College, the leading boys high school, in my last three years. At age 19, I became the Director of the Youth for Christ movement in Guyana and one year later was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study Engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Thus in 1963 I made my first airplane flight to America and entered the confusing world of academia in a country bereft of racial equality.

2. What was life like in British Guiana? What was your biggest culture shock?

Although I grew up in Guyana being keenly aware that we were poor, I never felt impoverished. No one belittled us nor treated us with disrespect. This was the greatest culture shock when I came to America. I arrived in America two weeks before Martin Luther King’s march in Washington DC and about a month before the bombing of the church in Alabama that killed three young girls. Then I began to experience racism personally and found it incomprehensible that evangelical Christians supported and practiced hatred against Blacks.

3. One of the major themes in the book is racial discrimination. Do you think the US has made any progress in that area?

In the 55 years that I have been in America, I have witnessed incredible progress. One can see it in the participation of Backs in leadership positions in the US congress and in State Legislatures. Leadership in Corporate America has improved slightly. Blacks can sit at any counter without fear of being lynched. However, in the last two years, I have been astounded at the return of white supremacy and racism in the body politic and in the evangelical churches. It is almost as though the Age of Enlightenment is over and we are left with a babble of mean spirited tweets and invasive, disruptive social media.

4. You were heavily involved in pharmaceutical research and development. Do you see a cure for any major diseases coming in the next 50 years or so? Cancer? Alzheimer's? ALS?

Cancer is the result of the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells. Thus every tissue in the body could potentially become cancerous. We already have cures for some cancers, such as acute leukemia and testicular cancer. I am convinced that within 50 years there will be cures for any disease which is caused by a specific gene. In addition, earlier diagnosis and preventive treatments will lead to better management of diseases for which there is still no cure in 50 years.

5. Healthcare is a huge issue in America right now. Do you have any opinion on healthcare or how to improve it?

I think that we need to recognize that there will always be two levels of healthcare: that for the super rich and that for everyone else. Everyone should have affordable access to healthcare. There are some clear drivers of cost that, for some reason, are not being addressed. The first is a greater focus on preventive health care. The second is greater use of home–based care and other non-hospital facilities, such as wellness centers, the third and the one that has the greatest resistance, is tort reform. The legal costs associated with defending and paying awards for negative treatment outcomes drive the defensive use of many expensive diagnostic tests. I describe the Accountable Care Community initiative in my Memoirs, which I am convinced can help to reduce costs in a community.

6. What's next for you after Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

Given the positive responses and requests for presentations and ‘Fireside Chats’ about Defining Moments of a Freeman from a Black Stream, I am considering a follow-on publication based on the conversations that have emanated from these Chats and presentations. I also will probably also spend time coaching and mentoring young professionals presently navigating the corporate pathways.

7. Being as February was Black History month, do you have a favorite black leader?

My favorite Black Leader is Muhammad Ali. He ‘floated like a butterfly and stung like a Bee’. He predicted the round in which he would knock out his opponent and achieved it. He had the courage of his convictions and went to jail rather than support a war that he thought was unjust. To me his life was a testimony to the reality that being true to one’s values and working hard to exceed expectations will bring success, even if ‘hard won’.

8. Who was your biggest influence?

My biggest influence was my mother. I watched her struggle daily to feed and clothe her children. I watched her sadness when she faced disappointment, but was never bitter. She never asked: ‘Lord, why me?’ She never played ‘the victim card’. And she was always encouraging of my efforts and delighted in my academic successes. As she said to me often: ‘Of whom much is given, of him is much required”. That has influenced all that I do.

Let's end on a few fun questions.

9. What's your favorite food?


My favorite food is Pepper Pot. This is a Guyanese Ameindian-derived dish made with casreep, which is a sauce made from cassava. It is usually eaten at Christmas time. That is probably the only beef type food that I really like. Otherwise, I am a lover of all seafood, except lobster.

10. What's your favorite book?

My favorite book remains: The Road Less Travelled by E. Scott Peck MD. It made me feel less concerned about my taking the Road Less Travelled.

11. If you could sit down with any historical figure, past or present, who would you talk with?

There are four people with whom I would love to spend a few hours in discussion. The first would be Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandhi together. I would probe how they would deal with today’s challenges: Racism and sequelae of colonialism; distribution of wealth, and protection of the environment. In a session with Socrates and Plato, I would ask the same questions, but would add another question. This is: How would you teach today’s leaders to search for the truth?

12. What do you listen to in your car? Radio station? audio book? Nothing?

I listen to NPR, and any genre of music from my Sirius XM radio, depending on my mood. I listen to all types except Hard Rock.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

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Post by AntonelaMaria » 07 Jun 2019, 12:21

Great interview. This makes me want to read this book even more.

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Post by brandIE420 » 07 Jun 2019, 13:55

Nicely done

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Post by Nisha Ward » 07 Jun 2019, 14:35

Oh this was quite interesting. I'm curious to know what the author thinks of the resistance movement now as compared to the changes he's witnessed over time but that might be a bit too heavy
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Post by Janalyn101 » 08 Jun 2019, 21:27

This book has been on my wish list for a while now. What a phone interview, I am so glad you asked him those fun questions at the end. What great answers I too would love to talk to Morton Luther King Junior that would be a great time. I am so excited this is book of the month for July. Thanks for the great interview! 8-)

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Post by kdstrack » 09 Jun 2019, 18:10

I enjoyed his comment about his mother being his greatest influence. Her positive attitude was a great model for him. I am also impressed by his life-changing experience and how he excelled after that. What an interesting person! I am looking forward to reading his book.

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Post by Emmylites90 » 11 Jun 2019, 20:15

What a life experience!!. The interview was quite interesting

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Post by a-b-c- » 12 Jun 2019, 12:42

Good job and it was nice that you got to talk with the author of the book that you were reviewing.

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Post by a-b-c- » 12 Jun 2019, 12:42

Good job and it was nice that you got to talk with the author of the book that you were reviewing.

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Post by J_odoyo » 13 Jun 2019, 09:17

This was a very interesting interview. I could grin a little while reading through this interview. This now makes me want to read this book.

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Post by C-obi » 14 Jun 2019, 10:43

The interview was detailed, informative and revealing. It is also an eye-opener to the sad realities of our time.

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Post by Clorinda Donovan » 06 Jul 2019, 16:26

What an interview! If I could sit down and talk to leader it would definitely be Nelson Mandela. The author seems to be such an interesting character.
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Post by MatereF » 07 Jul 2019, 06:37

Great interview, it has convinced me further that must read his book. Now i know more about the author. If i had a chance to talk to any leader, it would have to be Nelson Mandela.
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Post by C-obi » 07 Jul 2019, 07:54

I read the interview about a month ago, and was touched by Frank Douglas's words. A man positively encouraged by the scholarship award he received, arrives to find himself entangled in a society with very harsh realities, one of them being racism against blacks. The writeup got me thinking about the tragedies the society can often avoid if we can learn to accept one another in a mature way.

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Post by Tashi Gyeltshen » 07 Jul 2019, 20:51

Nice interview. It makes me a hunger to catch hold of this book sooner

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