Channeling Frederick Douglass

| 17 Jun 2015 | 04:24

By Linda Fields
— On June 8, Frederick Douglass strode to the top of the Grist Mill in Milford, where he delivered an impassioned speech against racial and gender discrimination. He promised to end such prejudice if elected president next year.

The stump speech was part of Daniel Friedberg III’s field trip from Fallsburg High School, located in Fallsburg, N.Y. Each student in Mr. Brown’s 11th grade advance placement history class took on the persona of a prominent figure from America's past. And each student — in character, and at a different site, beginning in Philadelphia — gave a speech as candidate for the nation’s highest office.

The six students finished up in Milford. They toured all three levels of the mill for an up-close look at its hydro-powered system with its 24-foot diameter water wheel, pulleys, and belts.

After his speech, Daniel/Frederick gave handcuffs to each of the students and to Mr. Brown so that they could know how it feels to be shackled. He instructed them to “break the chains” and unshackle themselves from the fetters of discrimination.

“He ended up with a superior score," Mr. Brown told the Courier about Daniel's performance. "He did very well."

Other personas adopted by the students included Ronald Reagan (Brendan Dromazos), Alexander Hamilton (Sun Singh), Jane Addams (Bijal Patel), Eleanor Roosevelt (Stephanie Perna), and Rachel Carson (Josh Hazelnis).

The field trip was designed to help students prepare for the New York State Regents exam and for college. Although tired from the long day, the young candidates enjoyed their visit to the mill and no doubt all look forward to their summer vacation.