"Learning to Read and Write," by Frederick Douglass was not a typical story on slavery. Various aspects of the institution of slavery were mentioned in the story to challenge what readers' had formally known about slavery. The author first showed me that not all slaves were necessarily content with being second class citizens. Slaves, too, had a desire for education. Douglass wanted to read and write so much that he took it upon himself to become educated. Douglass bribed the children in his neighborhood into teaching him how to read, and used old copy books to learn how to write. As a result, Douglass became successful in his pursuit to read and write. The author of the story introduces readers to a different view of slaves; a view that is less discussed, but should be acknowledged.
There has always been a common misconception about slaves. Many people believe that all slaves had a hopeless mindset when it came to their enslavement. The author however, presented a hopeful mindset that was indeed found in the many who opposed slavery. Douglass was an avid reader, much different from what one would typically expect from a slave. Douglass mentioned in reference to his mistress, how, "Nothing seemed to make her more angry than to see me with a newspaper." Although Douglass's mistress had an abrupt change in her attitude from the influence of her husband, she was the person who initially taught Douglass how to read. Despite his mistress's sudden change in attitude, Douglass stated that, "All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the ~inch,~ and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ~ell.~" Through the course of reading, Douglass began to not only learn more about the injustice of slavery, but he also began to develop a hope of one day being free. "After a patient waiting, I got one of our city papers, containing an account of the number of petitions from the north, praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and of the slave trade between the States." Douglass had a longing for freedom and was not content with a life sentence to slavery.
In my previous years of learning, it seemed as if my educators whenever touching the topic of slavery, made African-American slaves appear to be unintelligent. Frederick Douglass challenged my former education, showing that slaves were not only intelligent, but in many cases, more intelligent than their masters.
Slavery is a major topic discussed as part of the curriculum for African American Studies. Often times, its readings are meant to enlighten audiences about the struggles and perseverance of African Americans in this period. Frederick Douglass challenged my former education of slavery. Throughout the narrative, Douglass