The Similarity of Views on Education Frederick Douglas and Malala Yousafzai

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Frederick Douglass, a slavery abolitionist, once said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Slavery is an awful thing, and throughout his life, Douglass experienced the harsh, cruel effects of it. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass written by himself, Douglass tells of all the hardships and traumas he endured in his life as a slave. Douglass was sent to multiple different slave owners in his life, and the situation was unique to each one. Wherever he was, however, one thing remained on his mind: education. Wherever he was sent, he was always striving to learn more. Douglass thought that education would free him both literally and figuratively. Frederick Douglass believed education was power and leads to freedom.

First, Frederick Douglass believed education is power. He believed this for many reasons, but one specific reason was that the white children knew their ages, and he did not. This made him feel unhappy and discouraged, and he did not understand why he didn’t have the same privilege as they did. At the beginning of the book, Frederick said, “The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege” (Douglass 19). Not having an education stripped Douglass of his dignity. It made him feel worthless. But when he became educated later in the book, his dignity was restored. Therefore, Frederick Douglass believed education is power.

Second, Frederick Douglass’ words are still relevant today. At the Youth Takeover of the United Nations in 2013, Malala Yousafzai made a speech about education. She said, “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first” (Yousafzai). Frederick Douglass thought that education is power, and so does Malala. Her speech was in 2013, which was only five years ago. She is preaching what Douglass thought in 1997. Clearly, Frederick Douglass’ words are still relevant today.

When Frederick Douglass is with the Aulds, he realizes that education leads to freedom. He realized this due to multiple scenarios that occurred in his slave career. One of them was when Sophia Auld, his kind, white-faced mistress, was teaching him how to read. Master Auld came in and instructed her to stop because learning would spoil any slave, and it is unsafe to teach a slave to read. That is when Douglass realized that education leads to freedom. Douglass explained, “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom” (Douglass 48). If Master Auld hadn’t instructed Sophia Auld to stop teaching Frederick, he might not have gained the invaluable knowledge he had. Because of this scenario and a few others, Frederick Douglass believed education leads to freedom.

Finally, Frederick Douglass’ words still apply and are still relevant today. At the Youth Takeover of the United Nations, Malala also said that she believes education is freedom, and she wants every child to have the right to a good education. Malala said, “I am here to speak up for the right of education for every child” (Yousafzai). She also said that she wants every terrorist to have an education. This is how strongly she believes in education. This wasn’t very long ago, which proves that Frederick Douglass’ words on freedom are still relevant today.

In conclusion, Frederick Douglass believed education is strong, and it results in freedom. While he was a slave, he learned how to read, which helped him develop his independence. This was what ultimately helped him escape, which later led to his literal and figurative freedom. By being able to read, he gained power over his masters because he started detesting them and realizing how cruel they are. Education allowed him to develop his own opinions and values, which was crucial to his independence. As Frederick Douglass proved, education can truly impact and change our lives.

Works Cited

  1. Yousafzai, Malala. “Youth Takeover of the United Nations.” Conference Title that Includes Conference Date and Location, Keynote Address, 12 July 2013.
  2. Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Signet Classics, December 1997, New York.
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The Similarity of Views on Education Frederick Douglas and Malala Yousafzai. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved July 12, 2024 , from

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