What is the cast of black characters in "Song of Myself"?

Develop an essay in which you argue pro or con: Whitman aids the runaway slave in order to feel "morally empowered" himself.

In his Narrative, Frederick Douglass argued that for a white person to understand the fugitive slave he must imagine himself in those circumstances. Arguably, Whitman followed Douglass prescription quite literally. What are the advantages and perils of doing so?  To what extent do you find such an identification problematic?

Is the negro drayman free or enslaved? (Compare Frederick Douglass.  Could Douglass be enslaved on free soil and free in slave territory?) To what extent does slavery operate as a metaphor throughout “Song of Myself”--is it applicable to the passages that frame the first account of the runaway slave, the trapper’s bride who is sold and the woman aft the blinds of the window who looks yearningly on the twenty-eight bathers?

In “Song of Myself,” in what ways are the presence of slaves enabling for the narrator and his identity? How do the two accounts of runaway slaves differ?  How is the different treatment of the runaway related to the overall movement of the poem?

To what extent do changes in Whitman's poetry reflect evolving racial attitudes? Consider, for example,  how, in "I Sing the Body Electric," the slave at auction changes from a "curious creature" in 1855 to a "wonder" in 1856; consider the evolution of the "Black Lucifer" passage (powerful in Whitman's early notebooks, resonant in the 1855 version of "The Sleepers" only to be muted by the final edition of Leaves of Grass); and consider the insertion of the word "auction" in Whitman's line from "Song of Myself": "The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand--the drunkard nods by the bar room stove."  When did this word come into the poem and why?  What larger story or stories do these revisions tell?