It seems likely that those few proponents in the pro-slavery ranks who might actually have read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave, would have cursed the nameless street-children who helped Frederick Douglass to acquire the ability to read. This basic skill became a crucial asset in the creation of an orator whose renowned eloquence would make him one of the most powerful forces of the abolition movement.
Douglass describes the haphazard process of his education in chapter 7 of his autobiography. Sophie Auld, the wife of his master, worked against his efforts at self-education after initially being sympathetic. She had fallen under the influence of her husband's (correct) belief that literacy would make any slave dangerously aware of the fundamental injustice of their plight.
Thus thwarted, Douglass decides to seek his education in the streets, where even the most impoverished white boys had a skill he lacked: literacy.
The plan which I adopted,and the one by which I was most successful,was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers.
He always takes bread into the street, something which these poor boys sadly lack.
This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge.
As his reading skill grows, he comes to understand the terrible truth of his existence as a slave.
The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers...who had stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men.
In this manner, the bread of knowledge has led the young Frederick Douglass to the hunger for freedom.