Has any event in your life had the same impact that learning how to read had on Douglass’s life? If not, why not?

Frederick Douglass was born as a slave in Talbot County Maryland in the early 1800’s.  Like many other slaves, no one knew the exact date or year of his birth.  Later on in his life, he found a way of liberation and became an abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman.  From a young age, he knew that he could not spend the entirety of his life in bondage.  He was convinced that literacy was his golden key to liberation, therefore it had a major impact on his life when he learned to read and write.

If you imagine yourself in his place, with no hope of freedom, until you are introduced to the possible opportunity of getting a key to liberation.  Just think of the fire he must have felt inside him, that this might be his chance to put the corrupt system of slavery behind him.  He was first taught the very basics by his mistress, but when she discovered that it was not only illegal to teach a slave to read, but also risky, she refused to teach him and forbade him to learn.  This did not stop him, slowly but surely he learned how to read and write, some of his techniques of learning were quite clever.  He was determined to learn, no matter the consequences.  Learning to read, impacted his life in a way that nothing else could, literacy became the foundation of his future.

Personally, I do not think that any event in my life has ever had an impact on me in the way that learning to read had on Douglass.  The main reason for this is that I have not faced the same problems as Douglass did, I have never been desperate to escape a system so evil as slavery, or anything that compares to that.  Several events in my life have strongly impacted me, but not in the way learning to read impacted Douglass.  Learning to read was a form of unlocking his future, a bright future, it unlocked the hope of not having to spend his life getting beat to death in a field.  I am privileged to live in an era and a society where there is no darkness like that of slavery, I have the opportunity to learn, and do what I choose without facing the challenges that faced Douglass.

Some might say that he somewhat exaggerated the situation by saying that literacy was his source of liberation, and technically that may be true.  But learning to read and write gave him not only essential skills, but it also gave him hope, which brought determination, and I think this hope and determination he built early on, was a large part of his successful liberation.



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