Frederick Douglass is Taking Over Bloomsburg University

The Frederick Douglass Institute at Bloomsburg University is officially taking over.

From the Frederick Douglass Learning Community, to the Frederick Douglass Debate Society, they have already made a name for themselves.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave, is known due to his advocacy work to free slaves way back in the 19th century. It is no surprise that the BU Frederick Douglass Institute is all about social justice and bringing students together to fight these issues.

The Frederick Douglass Learning Community, or FD LC, is part of Bloomsburg University’s LC program. The Frederick Douglass LC, however, is open to any incoming freshman, regardless of major. In this LC, you are able to meet other freshmen with similar interests as you, as well as participate in events and activities that are mainly focused around social justice. You are also given an upperclassman mentor, who guides you in your first year.

The Frederick Douglass Learning Community 2018-2019

While in the FD LC, you are also given the chance to start building your resume. They offer two programs – writing and public relations – and you can pick which one you would like to join.

The PR team this year consists of Makayla Mento, Jonice Storer, Bradley Roth, Serenity Rodriguez, Nagely Anderson and Amara Halvorson. Advised by FD mentor Ryan Williams, they handle the Frederick Douglass Instagram, where they post daily about current social justice issues, problems that face people of color as well as their accomplishments and racism.

Mentor Autumn Gunn is in charge of the FD Newsletter, and mentor Latacia Feliciano is in charge of the Facebook.

Frederick Douglass Learning Community 2019-2020

Another aspect of the Bloomsburg University Frederick Douglass Institute is their debate team. Every year, the team meets weekly to prepare their debates for the Frederick Douglass Debate Tournament in April.

Last year, the debate topic was “Do Americans have a right to Affordable, Universal Healthcare?” The topics always deal with current social justice issues. This year’s topic is “Does America owe African Americans Reparations for Slavery?”

Team members include President Ryan Williams, Vice President Nancy Bucci, Secretary Caprice Gillick, as well as Shayla Edwards, Filomena Alves, Paige Superko, Ariel Tat, Clarissa Murray, Chyna Perry, Emel Rasim, Katelynn Kuijpers and Nacira Scott. They are advised by Dr. Shavonne Shorter, Dr. Robert Green and Dr. Erin Brummett.

Ryan Williams, Nancy Bucci, Shayla Edwards and Filomenna Alves presented their debate arguments at the National Communications Conference in Baltimore this past Nov. The FD Debate Team has also hosted members from the British National Debate team where Dan Scanio, from London, and Niamh Thompson, from Scotland, gave an international perspective on politics, diversity and culture.

Frederick Douglass Debate Team President with members of the British National Debate Team
From left to right: Niamh Thompson, Ryan Williams, Dan Scanio

Just last week, the Frederick Douglass Institute held its first ever Frederick Douglass Symposium organized by Dr. Shavonne Shorter. At the symposium, guest speakers gave presentations about different and relevant social justice issues.

Mitchell Jackson, author of “Survival Math: Notes on an all American Family,” gave a keynote speech about the writing process and about his award-winning book.

Frederick Douglass members with Dr. Shavonne Shorter and author Mitchell Jackson

Want to get involved with the Bloomsburg University Frederick Douglass Institute? Email Dr. Shavonne Shorter,, or if you wish to join the debate team, meetings are every Wednesday in McCormick 1230 at 6 p.m.