City Lights edition of Narrative of Frederick DouglassSan Francisco-based City Light Publishers has released a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist’s autobiography, that includes two rediscovered 1960s lectures by legendary feminist scholar and political activist Angela Davis that focused on Douglass’ themes of self-empowerment and freedom through literacy and self-knowledge.

The new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave Written By Himself also includes a new introduction by Davis that discusses both the rediscovered lectures and Douglass’ role as both an anti-slavery activist and as a visionary 19th century supporter of the rights of women. Davis’s Lectures on Liberation were originally delivered in 1969 while she was an embattled philosophy professor at UCLA. The lectures were first presented in front of an audience of more than 1,500 students and faculty that turned out in a show of support for Davis who was under pressure to be removed from the university because of her membership in the Communist Party USA.

Stacey Lewis, City Lights Publishers publicity and marketing director, said the lectures were originally delivered, “at a time before black studies departments had been established and also put a feminist perspective on Douglass’ narrative.” CLP has released a 2,000 copy first printing in commemoration of Black History Month and Lewis pointed out that the book’s publication also marks the 40th anniversary of Davis’ arrest and the beginning of the Free Angela Davis movement.

The new edition includes transcripts of two Lectures on Liberation from 1969 in addition to a letter of support for Davis signed by over 24 UCLA professors. The lectures were discovered online by City Lights Publishers editor Greg Ruggiero while working with Davis on another book. This is the first time they have been published in book form.

Originally published in 1845, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave Written By Himself tells the story of Douglass life as a slave and how he taught himself to read by observing whites he lived and worked around. There are at least 20 different editions of the public domain work in print and Douglass’ powerful and eloquent story of a slave propelled to freedom by the power of reading remains a popular and inspirational story to this day.

Davis will be speaking at number of universities about the book—including a keynote speech she gave at the National Women's Studies Association's Annual Conference in November—and the publisher is also hoping to give the book a boost by staging a public conversation between Davis and nobel literature laureate Toni Morrison at New York Public Library. The event was originally slated to be held this month but has been postponed because of a Morrison illness. “We’re waiting to hear from Morrison about rescheduling the event,” Lewis said.