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School History


Opened at its present site as Douglass High School in 1915 when Martin Luther King Blvd. was Nebraska Street.
The school traces its origins to 1869 when the Freedman’s Bureau built a school house for the children of the freed slaves on the San Antonio River across from the Ursuline Convent. The four-room, two-story stone building was built with $4,000 obtained from the sale of an abandoned Confederate tannery.

In the 1870s and early 1880s it was called the Rincon Street School after the street it faced. In 1884 the School Board officially changed its name to Riverside School, and in 1902 to Frederick Douglass in honor of the anti-slavery orator and statesman.

A Texas State Historical Marker now marks its site at the northwest corner of N. St. Mary’s and Convent streets. This property was sold by the District in 1915 when the new Douglass opened on Nebraska Street. The Nebraska Street campus opened as Douglass High School and became Douglass Junior High School in 1932 when the upper grades moved to the then-new Phillis Wheatley High School.

Douglass became an elementary school at the end of the 1969-70 school year, serving grades 3rd through 5th.

Frederick DouglassFrederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his death, it covered events during and after the Civil War. Douglass also actively supported women's suffrage, and held several public offices. Without his approval, Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the U.S. Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under the motto "No Union With Slaveholders", criticized Douglass' willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied: "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."



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