If the shoe fit’s, then you should wear it! But evidently teachers and administrators at a school in Rochester, New York don’t want to assume any responsibility for the way 13 year old Jada Williams felt about her education. In an essay she wrote for a contest comparing her modern day education to what was written in a section of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, she exercised her freedom of speech and upset the school at the same time.
She wrote her essay based on a conversation Frederick Douglas over-heard, listing the reasons slaves should not be educated. His slave master told his wife, “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him ,it will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
According to the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York:
On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Jada Williams, a 13-year old city of Rochester student. Miss Williams wrote an essay on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life.
Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation. She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester. While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery. Their illiteracy holds them back in society.
Her call to action was then in her summary: “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”
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The truth hurts! Do you think Jada Williams did anything wrong?