Call for submissions: Frederick Douglass wants your students’ essays

Their best words and ideas are needed now

This morning, I learned about an organization taking essay submissions from students around the world for possible online publication.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The organization is called Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. Founded in 2007 and based in Rochester, NY, FDFI is  dedicated to the legacy of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the vision of “a more equitable world without slavery or racism.”

FDFI wants your students’ “best words and ideas” for its Douglass Mind Blog. The contest has closed, but students may still submit essays for possible online publication.

What remedies do your students advocate to confront and end racism in the world today?

In the words of FDFI co-founder Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-great-great grandson of Douglass and great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington:

“For those of you feeling so much anger, so much frustration, this may not be the answer you’re looking for, but it’s a fact: Frederick Douglass would express his rage through words.”

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.

Watch this video narrated by Morris about the contest’s goals:

Find this and other Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives videos on YouTube.

Know a young writer who may wish to express their thoughts on the current crisis with their words? Here are three steps they should take:

  1. Reference mentor essays. Read these other entries already published on the Douglass Mind Blog here. Of the ten essays that appear, all the writers are teens except for one. One entry is from a student in Sri Lanka. Here are links to five of the essays:

2. Read Douglass’ 1881 essay, “The Color Line,” to gain more knowledge about Douglass’ philosophy on prejudice and racism, especially with regard to the African-American experience. In one portion of the essay, Douglass writes, “Prejudice against color is… “a moral disease…” Calling prejudice and its cousin, racism, a moral disease conveys a distinct nature of sickness, of disorder. Several essays already on the blog capitalize on this idea and draw connections between illness and racism.

3. Cite any sources used in a bibliography.

4. Enter your best writing online at the FDFI website by scrolling to the bottom of the page at this link.

I’m a huge fan of writing contests for how they motivate students to write for a real-world audience. Getting their words in front of readers outside of the school setting engages and builds relevance like nothing else! Check out my growing list of writing contests.


Thanks for reading! Even though it’s summer and school’s out in many places, knowing there are opportunities for students to write about current events and to be heard (and possibly published!) is encouraging. Enter your email below and I’ll add you to my mailing list. Every once in a while (like maybe once a month), I’ll contact you with a new contest opportunity or creative ELA teaching idea.

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Published by marilynyung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

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