circa 1855: Ex-slave, American abolitionist, agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and US Minister to Haiti in 1889, Frederick Douglass (Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) (1817 - 1895). He became the first black man to be received at the White House, by President Abraham Lincoln.   (Photo by Library Of Congress/Getty Images)

Jody Lewen Named Frederick Douglass 200 Awardee

By Mount Tamalpais College | September 20, 2018
The Guardian

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center have partnered to honor 200 individuals whose modern-day work best embodies Douglass’s legacy of social change. Prison University Project Executive Director Jody Lewen was selected alongside Michelle Obama, Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Ava DuVernay, Naomi Klein, Bernie Sanders, and others as a Frederick Douglass 200 Awardee and will be honored at a gala in Washington D.C. in February.

Lewen was named amongst the Educators, “those committed to teaching away bigotry and interpreting ideas critical to human growth through books and film, lectures and laughter, in formal and informal classrooms.”

The list was published in the Guardian and excerpted below:

This year is Frederick Douglass’s Bicentennial celebration. After escaping slavery at the age of 20, Douglass went on to become one of America’s most celebrated abolitionists – tirelessly campaigning against slavery. Beyond his abolitionist work, Douglass was also a politician, writer, feminist, educator, entrepreneur and diplomat.

The Frederick Douglass 200 is a project to honor the impact of 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of Douglass across those areas where he had such an impact – abolitionist, politician, writer, feminist, educator, entrepreneur and diplomat.

The FD200 has been curated and compiled by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC, and the Guardian is pleased to partner with them to publish this list. Each week, between now and November, we will publish a list of 10 new people who have joined the FD200. All awardees will be honored at the Library of Congress in Washington DC on Douglass’s next birthday, February 14, 2019.


Jody Lewen began volunteering as an instructor for an associates degree program at the San Quentin state prison in California in 2002. Her work as an instructor led her to establish the Prison University Project, designed to improve access to higher education for incarcerated people at the facility. Her program has proved remarkably successful, dramatically reducing the recidivism rates of graduates. She continues to advocate for higher education opportunities for incarcerated people.

Attribution: This article originally appeared in The Guardian.
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Please note that the Prison University Project became Mount Tamalpais College in September 2020.