This is illustrated from the literary works of Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, and Sherman Alexie. Like these people, literacy isn’t achieved by simply going to school. It’s achieved through great determination and through great persistence. Frederick Douglass, an African-American who was born a slave, was taught how to read and write from the wife of his master. In his narrative, he writes about his mistress.
After minimal schooling, he traveled around Latin America and eventually ended up in England. He embraced the ideas of the Pan African Movement. These ideas were the groundwork for the organization he founded, the UNIA. He attracted working class blacks, who formed a devoted following of the man and his ideas. Both of these leaders, of course, were interested in the betterment of their race, but their different visions in achieving their goals led to a division that became both philosophical and intensely personal.
Mrs. Auld feels bad for how she treats Frederick but she feels that the way she treats him is how you are supposed to treat slaves. Douglass gives bread to poor white boys, for reading lessons. The boys have compassion on him, and they realize that slavery is wrong. They help him even though it was illegal to teach black slaves. Frederick Douglass discovers a book called The Columbian Orator.
When Frederick Douglass addressed the audience with his speech, it was very emotional and straight from his heart. As we all know, he was a freed slave and mainly considered his “slavery” as not being able to read and write, until his white master’s wife taught him to do so. With Douglass becoming a freed man and moved up North to pursue the life he dreamed to live, all he wanted was for the rest of the African American slave population to be free as well. Douglass believed that everybody had the right to succeed in society; he never understood how our country was founded on freedom but not everybody was free. Throughout Frederick’s speech, he repeatedly would ask the crowd uncomfortable questions and somewhat “guilt-trap” the people, example being “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.
This was not the first time that Douglass had seen or heard the whites talk about the slaves that way, but it forever changed him. From this point on Douglass vowed to continue his education no matter what he had to do, sneaking bread out of the house to give to the poor white boys in exchange for a small bit of knowledge that they could share with him. Next was the challenging task of learning to write, from betting with boys to see who could write better to copying the boy’s homework that he was supposed to be looking after. Douglass made this a mission and was destine to see it through. I believe that it was this determination that allowed him to eventually become a freeman as well.
In Frederick Douglass’s narrative An American Slave written by Frederick Douglass (1994ed), he tells his story of knowledge being freedom. Douglass talks about the many things he had to come up with to learn how to read and write. He used the white children he meets, trading food for knowledge. Realizing that being black he will be a slave for life, Douglass determination for education helped him become free of slavery. In Malcolm X A Homemade Education written by himself, in 1965, Malcolm X understood that knowledge is the gateway to freedom.
Douglass’s key demonstration of the corruption of slave owners is Sophia Auld, a woman who had never been a slaveholder before her husband attained Douglass. In the book when she first meets Douglass she is kind to him, but she in time becomes cynical and unsympathetic. She was corrupted when her husband said to her, “If you teach that nigger (Frederick Douglass) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no good, but a great deal of harm.
He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the Nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.” - Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery (Chapter 1) In 1901, Booker T. Washington published his autobiography, Up From Slavery. Born into slavery, after emancipation, Washington developed a philosophy that African-Americans needed to sweep away the ignorance that their subservient position had left them with, and earn the respect of the Whites through hard work and excellence. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute to teach African-Americans exactly how to study, how to work hard and intelligently (in order to produce better results than the White businesses of the day), and how to have respect for themselves and others, regardless of
When the slave owner found about this he strongly disapproved, because he thought that if the slaves learn to then the slaves would want to escape. Still, Douglass taught himself how to read in secret and eventually taught other slave how to read the Bible. Here, he understood where and why inequality within the US was thriving. Free labor brought profits for southern plantation owners and the ideology that “non-whites” were considered not to be equal. “Frederick Douglass was the most important African American leader and intellectual of the nineteenth century.
This, as history has shown, was not the case. Frederick Douglass began to continue his own quest for knowledge and education, while also instructing his fellow slaves how to read. His strong advocacy for black education prompted him to write to Harriet Beecher Stowe and to create a deeper drive toward education and