Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jada Williams 21st Century Abolitionist at 13 Years Old

Jada Williams
"to MY peers people of color in MY generation, blood sweat and tears have been shed for us to obtain any goals which we have set for our set for ourselves...never be afraid to excel and achieve...we are free to learn..."

I came across this story of 13 year old Miss Jada Williams who read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass over the Christmas break and submitted an essay for a contest.  The Frederick Douglass Foundation contacted Jada and honored her with the Spirit of Freedom award, saying that her essay "actually demonstrates that she understood the autobiography.  On her award are the words, "21st Century Abolitionist".  But it seems not everyone was so impressed:

"In a bold comparative analysis of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Jada Williams, a 13-year old eighth grader at School #3 in Rochester, New York, asserted that in her experience, today's education system is a modern-day version of slavery. According to the Fredrick Douglass Foundation of New York, the schools' teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams' essay that they began a campaign of harassment—kicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school." Read the entire story.

Watch Jada recite her essay:

Williams' parents say other teachers began to single out their daughter, a problem that a series of meetings failed to address. They requested a transfer from School #3 and the District switched her to School #19. On February 6, her first day at the new school, Williams said she witnessed several fights and didn't feel comfortable going back. Tuesday was her first day attending School #19 in nearly a month. She did not go back Wednesday. Williams feels expressing her opinion about the Frederick Douglass book has ruined her life. Fighting back tears, she said,

 "I love to go to school and I feel like they're taking that away from me."

Williams' mother said this controversy is not about race, but about her daughter's ability to express her thoughts freely. Her essay was recently acknowledged by the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York, which awarded the 13-year-old its first-ever Spirit of Freedom Award on February 18.  Read more....

The Superintendent finally called to apologize Friday night, March 2.  Is this enough?
Please contact Rochester Superintendent of Public Schools Vargas Bolgen at or call (585) 262-8100 to voice your concerns about Ms. Jada Williams being force out of school because she wants her classmates to learn.

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