Rochester to Celebrate Austin Steward Day

On Tuesday, July 5 Rochester will celebrate Austin Steward Day  in celebration of  one of the first great black teachers, freedom fighters and business persons in the early days of Rochester. This day will include theatrical monologues, storytelling, a “Freedom Now” panel discussion, black owned business vendors and giveaways of Austin Steward’s book.

The event will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the  Thurston Road YMCA, 597 Thurston Road, in Rochester,.

Education is crucial. Celebration of Culture makes us whole. It helps us take pride in who we are, as a larger community and as black people in particular. 

Brother Stewart escaped from enslavement and was one of Rochester’s first Black business owners, first public school educators, and first anti-slavery activist. 

His anti-racist July 5 speech helped pave the way for the ideas of freedom, citizenship and abolition of  the great Frederick Douglass. He is considered one of the crucial forefathers of Black Rochester who still inspires us to fight for and center Black nationhood. Besides, Austin Stewart is one of the forefathers of Black Rochester and he is thoroughly under acknowledged and under celebrated. This stops now. We hope this spawns great interest in bringing his narratives into local schools and other impactful arenas of thought.

The Austin Steward Day is being hosted by  #COMMUNITYJUSTICEINITIATIVE,  an Afrikan centered, nation-building collective who utilizes Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, Malcolm X Day, Austin Steward Day and others as vehicles for the progress of our people. 

Austin Steward is remembered today for his work as a great abolitionist. In the city of Rochester, a bronze bust of Steward, designed by Calvin Hubbard, can be seen on the second floor of the Radisson Hotel, the site where his own business was once located. Further downtown, Steward’s portrait, by artist Shawn Dunwoody, can be seen on a pier of the Interstate 490 bridge over West Main Street. Alongside the images of Nathaniel Rochester, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Steward’s message of integrity still inspires us today.

For more information or inquiries text or call Diallo Payne at 585-355-7884 or email communityjusticeinitiative@gmail.com   or  Vanessa Martell of the Thurston Road YMCA.