Frederick Douglass: The Abolitionist for a Quality Education


Many see Frederick Douglas as mainly the ‘great’ abolitionist of human chattel.

Douglass’s cogent speeches and pertinent editorial analysis of, the inhumane and self-destructive consequential practice of slavery was only a precursor to something he learned the very day the plantation’s Madame Sophia Auld, decided to teach him the alphabet and how to read and write.

Douglass realizes, the institution of slavery can be demolished by obtaining a quality education.

During the time of Douglass, it was illegal to teach slaves to read or write.

The Douglass Honor Society says, being able to read meant it would be easier for slaves to escape to freedom and to live their own lives independently afterward. Douglass saw very clearly that literacy and education meant freedom, as did the white people around him,” the analysis continue. “Her husband Hugh Auld discovered his wife’s actions and insisted that she stop. He warned that if a slave were to read, he would learn enough to want to be free. Frederick overheard, and later described the statement as a “decidedly antislavery lecture,” one that made him resolve to continue to learn to read, and to become free.”

200 years later as Rochester embarks on the bicentennial anniversary of Frederick Douglass, people of color here and in urban cities throughout America attending predominately minority public schools have consistently produce the lowest academic performance scores in the nation.

And in addition, Rochester and other cities alike, public schools are still as segregated as when Douglass’s eldest daughter Rosetta (1839-1906), who grew up in Rochester, was forced into being educated by private tutors because the Rochester Board of Education voted to close public schools to black children. However today, the city of Rochester public schools and other urban cities across the country sharing similar demographics consist of predominately minorities.

Our country’s history eludes to the premise that the accountability and standard for providing a quality public education went out the door, when the desegregation of schools was decided based on the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Act, that sparked white politicians to begin sending social and economic resources out of the urban cities to the outskirts of its borders (suburbs), giving white families an exclusive haven to continue to afford their children a quality education, while minorities in urban cities including Rochester, continues to be denied the same with no accountability.

So as people of all ethnicity in Rochester and abroad come together to celebrate the cities monuments, landmarks and inspiring stories of Douglass’s courageous feats.

Let’s not forget like Douglass that, the road to freedom is not complete until every man, woman, and child, despite the color of their skin and their zip codes are afforded a quality education.

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair a broken man.”- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
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