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Monday, March 10, 2014

WHS English Honors Class Skype Session with Ken Morris

Westwood High School’s English 3 honors class and the American Studies class participated in a Skype session with Ken Morris, a descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and co-founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative ( on Tuesday, March 4 at 9am.  Both classes studied The Narrative of Frederick Douglass and analyzed the ways in which Douglass used the power of the written and spoken word to affect change.

In the English 3 Honors class, they took it a step further to study modern day slavery and human trafficking.  There are millions of victims of human trafficking around the world today, even more than in the 19th century.  The students conducted research on modern day slavery in general and chose a more specific aspect of slavery to research in depth.  We researched the causes and effects of the problem and inquired on possible solutions to eradicate it.  The students will now use their rhetorical skills to analyze the problem and its possible solutions in an essay and later in a presentation.  The final stage of our challenge is to educate others on our issue and to finally DO something to make a difference.  

Mrs. Plotner stumbled upon the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative in her initial research on modern slavery.  She sent the foundation an email asking how her class could make a difference or how we could partner with the foundation in some way.  Mr. Robert Benz, the VP, replied to my request and the rest is history!  

Students quotes from the experience:
Ronesha McCleod:  
  • Mr. Morris told us a quote from Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” That stuck with me; I must create a difference in the world I’m going to be living in. But that also comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. I feel as if I can do nothing or no one will listen to me; I’m so young. I think a lot of young people feel that way. Overall Mr. Morris and Mr. Benz gave me a lot to think about and a lot of information to take in about the issue and what  I can do.”
Rebekah Williams:  ‘
  • “You can effect change, you are the next generation of great leaders.’”  We are getting older whether we like it or not.  It is time that we begin to step up and take control of what is going on.  Soon, it will be our jobs to take care of these situations, if we start now we can make a bigger impact.”
  • “One of the things that really caught my attention is when he said “We all descend from greatness.”  We don’t have to come from a historically prominent family to make a difference.”
Kyle Gilliam:  
  • Skyping with Ken morrison and Robert Benz was a great honor and experience in a way that I was able to interact with with one of the direct descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T Washington.  I am now encouraged to help people who are victim to human trafficking, particularly child soldiers. I want to raise awareness of child soldiers and hopefully one day go to Africa and interact face to face with victims.”

Jamila Minor:
  • They inspired me to want to start a club at school, and to start coming up with ways to help these people. I feel like I have I do something. . .”

Anah Livingston:  
  • “I enjoyed the fact that Mr. Morris and Mr. Benz were so ecstatic and excited to share information with us.  They took time out of their day to talk to us.”
April Moore:
  • “I was truly honored being able to listen to and watch Mr. Morris and Mr. Benz. . .  One thing that really stood out to me was how they constantly made note of how important our generation is because we are the future. . .”
Kiara Edwards:
  • The opportunity I had to speak with a descendant of such radical historic figures was phenomenal. . . Mr. Morris used a Frederick Douglass quote that I will never forget: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

 Video at this link:

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