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Expanding Educational Opportunity

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Letter from Frederick Douglass to...
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Letter from Frederick Douglass to Hon. Justin S. Morrill, January 4, 1880

African American activist Frederick Douglass praised the efforts of Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont to boost public funding to historically black schools. Morrill, who had introduced the first Land-Grant Act in the House of Representatives, garnered support for a second Land-Grant Act in 1890 that prohibited racial discrimination in distribution of state-based land-grant educational funds.

If our government should place a school house at every cross road of the South and support teachers for cash during the next fifty years it would hardly atone for the wrong done my people during their two hundred years of slavery and enforced ignorance. Having been a slave, I have learned the value of education in part from my own destitution of it.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress