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
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.