Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass

February 14, 2018 marks the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, one of the most significant Americans in our country’s history. Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass is a public art project, exhibition, and community-wide reflection commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth. This project will ask our students to contemplate Douglass' legacy and the relevance of his work today. Learn more about the celebration and find opportunities to participate in exciting community events at the City of Rochester's Frederick Douglass Bicentennial page.

What would Douglass Do?

It is our goal to engage every Student in the Rochester City School District in learning about Frederick Douglass and his legacy during this year of Douglass.

As students learn about the life and legacy of Fredrick Douglass, we will engage them in responding to the question, "What Would Douglass Do?" asking them to imagine the responses Douglass would have to events and situations in our current society. What would he say, what actions would he take, how would he feel?

Students from Early Childhood School 57 celebrate Douglass.

Classroom Resources

To help you plan your celebrations throughout this school year, we are culling and creating resources for you to use as an individual teacher or as a whole school building. Consider using some of the materials shown below.

*Please remember... when making decisions about the activities in which you will engage your students, please take special care to consider developmental appropriateness and students' prior knowledge and experience. The story of Douglass cannot be told without referencing the period of enslavement in the United States; it is important that our students' first encounters with African American history do not begin with enslavement.

Learn more and celebrate the legacy of Douglass every day! These materials, intended to be used as a brief activity every day for 1 week, identify character traits and qualities of Douglass and ask students to reflect on what that means in their lives today. Ask students to nominate fellow students or staff members who exemplify these qualities and make it a school-wide event!

Douglass Days (Secondary)


Celebrating Frederick Douglass is something that should happen at home too! Bring home the learning with this short one-page printable pamphlet about the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. Students can share the learning with their parents and families, and together ask each other, "What Would Douglass Do?"

Douglass Take-Home Pamphlet.pdf

History, Human Rights, and the Power of One

As part of the One Million Abolitionists initiative, The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Great Books Foundation worked together to create a curriculum for classroom use. Use the links below the navigate to useful resources for use in your classroom.

Readers Guides

In addition to leveled lessons, reading guides were produced to accompany the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:

Use the slide deck below as a read-aloud for younger students about the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. You can even make your own copy and customize for your class.

Frederick Douglass Read-Aloud

Additional Classroom Resources:

Frederick Douglass in Rochester: A video produced by Visit Rochester, featuring Dr. David Anderson, that highlights important local places and facts related to the life of Douglass and his legacy:

Learn More about The Life and Legacy of Frederick Douglass:

Frederick Douglass was the most photographed man of the 19th century. See the story of the discovery of a previously unknown photograph of Douglass as told through the video below produced by the City of Rochester. Also consider this perspective from The ARTery: Frederick Douglass used Photographs to Force the Nation to Begin Addressing Racism.