Petition Seeks Name Change of Rochester Airport to Frederick Douglass International

A petition is seeking to rename the Greater Rochester International Airport to Frederick Douglass International Airport.

Richard Glaser, a local financial advisor, started the petition. He said the name change would “deliver a message of hope to the world.”

Frederick Douglass, born  into  slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in  1818, died  February 20, 1895.   He lived  in Rochester  from 1847 to 1872 where he began publishing, North Star. During this period, he served as an advisor to President Lincoln, fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments granting voting rights and other civil liberties to African Americans, and advocated for women’s suffrage at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.Douglass is buried  in Rochester’s historic Mount Hope Cemetery. He was a human rights leader, anti-slavery fighter, statesman, author and orator. 

On July 5, 1852, Douglass delivered his now  famous speech at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall in which the speaker told his audience in part, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine… You may rejoice, I must mourn.” 

Douglass’s message might be more relevant today than ever since the struggles he fought for remain ongoing.  His words and actions continue to inspire us to rise to a higher vision of ourselves and our nation.

“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny.”
― Frederick Douglass

-Additional Tribute-

In addition to the petition to rename the city’s airport after him, the state senate is currently considering a bill to rename the 570-mile NYS thruway  after  Douglass.  The bill, known as SO8158, was introduced by State Senator Tim Kennedy, a Democrat from Buffalo.

– His Statue Vandalized-

On a sadder note, a  statue of Douglass in Rochester’s Maplewood Park was vandalized recently on the anniversary of his famous   4th of July speech. The damaged statue was ripped off its base and dumped  by the Genesee River gorge. Police are still investigating.

Local leaders of the statue  project said the monument, which could not be repaired,  would be replaced. The Maplewood Park location includes Kelsey’s Landing, where Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and others helped enslaved Africans escape  to freedom along the Undergroud Railroad.