Breaking News: 13 Year Old Jada Williams Persecuted by the Rochester City School District

Frederick Douglass Foundation
of New York
“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.”                                                  Frederick Douglass
February 26, 2012
Media Contact: Tracy Fickess
(585) 576-9435 or

In Case You Missed It

13 Year Old Jada Williams Persecuted by the Rochester City School District  Over her essay on Frederick Douglass.

On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Jada Williams, a 13-year old city of Rochester student.  Miss Williams wrote an essay on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life.  This was part of an essay contest, but her essay was never entered.  It offended her teachers so much that, after harassment from teachers and school administrators at School #3, Miss Williams was forced to leave the school.
We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation honored her because her essay actually demonstrates that she understood the autobiography, even though it might seem a bit esoteric to most 13-year olds.  In her essay, she quotes part of the scene where Douglass’ slave master catches his wife teaching then slave Frederick to read.  During a speech about how he would be useless as a slave if he were able to read, Mr. Auld, the slave master, castigated his wife.
Miss Williams quoted Douglass quoting Mr. Auld:  “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slaveHe would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation.  She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester.  While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery.  Their illiteracy holds them back in society.
Her call to action was then in her summary: “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”
This offended her English teacher so much that the teacher copied the essay for other teachers and for the Principal. After that, Miss Williams’ mother and father started receiving phone calls from numerous teachers, all claiming that their daughter is “angry.”  Miss Williams, mostly a straight-A student, started receiving very low grades, and she was kicked out of class for laughing and threatened with in-school suspension.
There were several meetings with teachers and administrators, but all failed to answer Miss Williams’ mother’s questions. The teachers refused to show her the tests and work that she had supposedly performed so poorly on.  Instead, the teachers and administrators branded her a problem.
Unable to take anymore of the persecution, they pulled her from School #3.  Wanting to try another school, they were quickly informed that that school was filled and told to try “this school.”  During her first day at this new school, she witnessed four fights, and other students asked her if she was put here because she fights too much.
Long story short, they took an exceptional student, with the radical idea that kids should learn to read, and put her in a school of throwaway students who are even more unmanageable than the average student in her previous school.  To protect their daughter, her parents have had to remove her from school, and her mother has had to quit her job so she can take care of Miss Williams.
To date, the administrators of School #3 have refused to release her records, even though she no longer attends the school, and they have repeatedly given her mother the run around.  We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation have contacted school administrators in regards to this situation and have also been told to hit the pavement.

That’s what we intend to do.  If this school will sacrifice the welfare of an above-average student whose essay, that they asked her to write, they find offensive, we intend to make everyone aware of this monstrous injustice.  The school has a job, and it is not doing it.  We would like as many folks as possible to call the Principal of School #3 and complain about this injustice.  Her name is Miss Connie Wehner, and she can be reached at (585) 454-3525.  This treatment of Jada Williams cannot stand.

See Video of Jada reading her Essay Here
Read Related Blog posts HereHere and Here

March 15-17, 2012
Washington Marriott Hotel at the Metro Center

Frederick Douglass
I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one…..The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.


405 thoughts on “Breaking News: 13 Year Old Jada Williams Persecuted by the Rochester City School District

  1. Pingback: A 13-Year-Old’s Slavery Analogy Raises Some Uncomfortable Truths in School « The Black Conversation

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  12. There ar some good teachers, but this clearly is a situation where they are more about themselves and idiotic ideaology than the education and growth of the students. Unfortunately there is so much crap surrounding schools today that education is beginning to take a back seat. Kudos to the young girl who took the time to research and write an outstanding paper.

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  14. I just read about the incident about 13 year old Jada Williams. I would like to say this is surprising but— it is not. It is so appalling that things like this still occur today. I am truly hurt. This situation just demonstrates and proves to me the closed-mindedness of many Americans. I have been met with similar responses at my university (Seton Hill University). In these situations the administrators have accused me of being “angry.” This accusation stems from nothing more than me having an opinion and a voice. During each incident I have been the one to reach out to the administrators and in return I have been prosecuted rather than heard. They claim that there is a wall between us and that they need to find someone who I can talk with. There is no wall. The problem is that I refuse to accept their unprofessionalism and lack of solutions. They scrutinize our every move we make as criminal, because they’ve already made up their minds we are criminals. When will there come a day when incidents like this will be a faded memory? It is sickening that there is no hope for humanity at this current time

    • The problem is these kids do not respect the white teachers the way they respect the black teachers. Teachers are forced to go full retard and suspend these children when all other punishments fail to effect change in their behaviour.

      The problem sits squarely on the atrocious parents.

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  22. Is this a Rosa Parks moment? I hope so. Young Jada has drawn a very compelling parallel between the 19th century and today. Many public schools are a disgrace and insidiously racist. Tell ‘em Jada, and keep reading and writing.

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  24. Another example of UNIONS not giving a crap of our children but only to protect their overpaid salaries. Condemn Honestly and Brilliance but praise those who hate….. This whole story makes me sick. Im calling this B_tch Principal everyday and letting her know that doorknobs have more intelligence than her and her entire staff…

    • Michael/JeffT. This has nothing to do with being in a union. To make such an ignorant assumption shows a lack of sensibility. To use a story like this to attack unions, shows poor intelligence. IMHO.

  25. Is there any legal recourse that could be taken? If not for discrimination, then for harassment or for negligence or unprofessional conduct of the teachers and administration.

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  27. I won’t say “disgisting” or any other cliche.. I’ll only say that I think it’s really cool that someone is prepared to stand beside this kid. Well done.

  28. Thank you for writing about this incident. I applaud the family for fighting back and being willing to talk with the media.

  29. It is absolutely disgusting what the so-called teachers, including administration, have done to this little girl. As a RCSD teacher I am so embarrassed that I have to call these people my colleagues. Ms. Williams should be proud of herself! We constantly tell kids how important education is. Why is it then, that they get torn down when they exhibit what was asked for in the first place. ALL of the staff members at #3 should be ashamed of themselves, those that berated Ms. Williams and those who did nothing about it.. This is nothing more than a case of adults bullying a child, which by the way, we teach kids not to do. I hope that Bolgen Vargas is dealing with this in a way that supports Jada Williams.

    • Thank you for speaking the truth. I live in VA. Racism is alive and well here. Black athletes are treated well because of the worship of sports. The unfairness has to stop. If whites lived through the events that enslaved the blacks they would have revolted long ago. God did create man. It does not even say what color skin they had at that time. At least that is what I read in the Bible.

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  31. The irony is dripping. Schools that are jamming bullying dictates down our throats are BULLYING this girl. I’m sure we dcan find a teachers’ union behind this effort to humiliate this child.

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  34. Much love & respect to Miss Jada Williams. Keep your head up seeking truth and knowledge. Dont allow other’s to tell you your history;continue to read & comprehend what you read. You have a bright future ahead of you if you keep doing what you are doing. Dont be discourage by the action taken by RCSD…it’s just another tactic to silence the truth of injustice & inequality in our education system.

    Its time for parents to stand up for our children and give them the recognition that they truly deserve….where is the news media now?

  35. it’s what education should be , this young woman isn’t allowing herself the opportunity to be miseducated or the chance of being un-educated . She’s right on point and the fact that rcd chose to suppress her records show motive to trying to rail road a young brilliant mind . Where are the activist there? Why haven’t they had the guts to step into this situation ? With all of the very things going on there seems to show practice of things systematical and damaging towards people of color yet no on speaks up early , what happened to freedom of speech , yet also this was result of an essay? Get real .

  36. People should learn from their mistakes, for a society to grow and progress it needs to do the same, learn from its past and not make the same mistakes over and over. That a 13 year old has not only understood that book, but related it to her society in a completely relevant way is remarkable. Her teachers should be praising her insight, not casting her aside because she makes them uncomfortable. People who cast a new light onto a truth, and make others see it, can frequently be unpopular. I hope this girl gets justice, she is obviously very intelligent and it would be a crime if she does not get the chance to live up to her potential because she made her teachers look at something they didn’t want to face.

  37. I am not sure if this is a case of racism or not, I do know that this child made an observation based on what she is seeing in her own school. It may not make a difference if the teacher is white, african american, hispanic, asian…if the system is broken teachers are going to have a hard time with discipline. If there is a lack of respect and structure in a school teaching becomes extremely difficult. I truly believe that the RCSD has been avoiding the fact their system is fundamentaly broken. The district is way too top heavy with administrators and non classroom workers. The fact that they needed to take a union teacher to court to have her removed from their payroll even though everyone agreed she should not be in a classroom is a horrendus waste of district assets that could be better used to help the students. I appluad this young lady for speaking her mind and feel truly saddened that this was not handled as a tool for learning by both the teacher and the student.

    • You can’t possibly be serious. This is definitely a case of racism. If it didn’t matter why was she kicked out of school, not accepted in another school and then results to a school that doesn’t care if your child learns or not. My heart goes out to this extraordinary young girl, whose education is diminished for foolishness. She expressed her opinion and was shot down because of it. Freedom of speech is in the constitution however practice of it hurts black, african american’s everyday.

  38. All the outrage is great, but beyond posts, what do we intend to DO?
    As a former student of RCSD, it is apparent racism is still alive and kicking. Our collective outrage should( and in my case) will go well beyond RCSD. The school officials has the unwritten license to behave this way and are protected against local upheaval. I ask you parents, when will you all be sick and tired of being sick and tired. How much of yourselves will you sacrifice for your children?

    • Exactly!!! Rochester is notorious for being mad for ten minutes and then going on to the next thing. I used to live there and work in the system. There are amazing teachers and administrators in Rochester however this is a mess. Foul play from one or two negates the hard work of thousands. The administrative team should be ashamed of themselves. If the story is wrong…the districts communications department needs to come out with a statement ASAP!!!!!

  39. The illuminati will try any & everything to deny intelligent people to have knowledge of self. They know that knowledge is power thats why they want our people to remain igorant, so that it will be easy to control us, we must remain vigilant & educated.

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