13-year-old girl forced to leave school over Frederick Douglass essay

A 13-year-old student from Rochester, NY was forced to leave her school in Rochester after she was harassed by students and teachers for an essay she wrote about Frederick Douglass.

According to The Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY, Jada Williams wrote an essay “on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life.” Williams incorporated her own experiences into the essay. This angered many of her teachers.

Williams quoted what Frederick said Mr. Auld (his slave master) said:  “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 slaveHe would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”

She then compared that quote to her own life. Williams said that her “white teachers” did not have enough control of the classroom to teach the minority students in Rochester. She then called attention to the fact that a form of modern day slavery is taking place as many of those “unteachable” students are not learning how to read.

Her final call to action in her essay was: “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.”

This angered her teacher, who then copied her essay and distributed it to other faculty members. Williams began receiving poor grades and was branded a “problem.” She eventually had to leave the school.

School #3 (where Williams attended) has not released any of Williams’ records. Frederick Douglass Foundation is looking into this injustice in order to get some answers. However, they have been met with resistance.


An injustice like this in this modern age is appalling. To out right deny a student and label her a problem simply for being bright and observing the realities of our education system is not a crime. But what the school is doing is a crime. Williams is an educated and bright individual who was calling attention and comparing Douglass’ situation to her own. And the fact that School #3 was offended and took actions of their own to cover it up only proves what she wrote in her essay.

What happened to Williams is upsetting and the school needs to be held accountable because it is education systems like this one that hold back certain types of people in order to advance its own agenda.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
This entry was posted in United States and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 13-year-old girl forced to leave school over Frederick Douglass essay

  1. D. H. Jackson says:

    I think the actions of School No. 3 is wrong. The school seems not to have correct leadership. If it had the correct leadership, the teacher would have not copied the girl’s paper and shared it with the other teachers. She should have shared it with the principal. Apparently she was not interested in solving the problem but hurting the innocent child. She was wrong and could possibly be sued for her actions. Next, because the leader of the school was not or did not support the teachers (probably) they had no discipline. Were the teachers really all white? Parents should have complained about that. Some people are earning lots of money for positions they are not fulfilling. The guilty parties are the principal, teachers, parents and students who let it happen and not say a word. The students who are causing the disturbances are also guilty. They could be causing problems because they do not understand what to do and do not know how to ask. All this show a lack of support for the teachers from the principals, and a lack of support from the parents of the students who are causing so much problems that nothing is being accomplished. This is as wrong as what happened at Penn University. Because the damage is on the inside of the kids, and the kids are Black, teacher, leaders, parents, don’t see it as a problem. In the scheme of things it is bad germ on America. Lack of action can cause an entire generation to be in poverty! Think about it! dhjackson

  2. Pingback: Students Suspended After Demanding An Education | News Media Source, Entertainment News, Media Source, Celeb News, News Media

  3. Pingback: Black Teen Run Off the Liberal Plantation – John Malcolm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s