This weekend, a local organization dedicated to building strong children and ending systems of exploitation and oppression, announced the winners of a blog contest in which young people were asked to come up with remedies to racism.
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, which is made up of direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and fellow abolitionist Booker T. Washington, ran the contest and hosted a webinar with the winners on Saturday.
Co-founder Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. says they were asking the question, what would Frederick Douglass do in response to the extrajudicial killings of black youth, women and men in America.
"Using the past as a guide, we believe the first thing he would do is to write about it. That’s why we decided to ask young people if racism is a disease, what are some of the remedies you would recommend to address it,” he said.
In an 1881 article, Douglass referred to racism as a disease.
One of the winners of the blog contest in the 13-15-year-old age group was Eamon Capps of Rochester.
In his blog he wrote: "To confront racism, we must not only confront the racist people who have caused damage, but also the racist system that powers them.”
Two other local winning entries came from Giovan McKnight of West Henrietta, and Rochester Institute of Technology student Bakari Wilkins.
David Blight, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, participated in the webcast.
Talking about Douglass’ July 5th, 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Blight says Douglass spent his over 50 year public life dealing with racism and the power of slavery in the American political system.
"He also would never miss an opportunity to use an event to get people’s attention and try to change society around that. When he had someone’s attention, he made the most of it,” he said.
In that 1852 speech, which he delivered in Rochester, Douglass challenged the Founding Fathers and the hypocrisy of their ideals with the existence of slavery on American soil.
The winning blog entries can be found at fdfi.org