ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Monroe County Executive Adam Bello gathered with community members on Sunday for a project 15 years in the making. It was the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport.
A small celebration was held in honor of Rochester’s most famous abolitionist on what would have been his 203rd birthday.
Rev. Julius Jackson was a bit emotional. He started the effort to rename the airport in 2006.
“I’m blown away. It’s always nice to see dreams deferred being realized… not denied….I’m going to have to take a few moments to soak it all in,” Jackson said.
After an online petition received thousands of signatures, Monroe County lawmakers approved legislation last summer to begin the process to change the name with FAA, and Bello signed the bill.
Carvin Eison led a project that brought 13 statues of Douglass to Rochester in 2018. Eison and his team are now working on bringing a bronze statue of Douglass to the airport.
Eison said that keeping Douglass’s name alive is keeping Frederick Douglass alive.
“He is still providing leadership. He is still pulling focus. He is still doing so many exceptional things.”
Eison was among those who also took part in another ceremony to honor Frederick Douglass on Sunday at Highland Park. Douglass was born into slavery in 1818, and he did not know the exact date of his birth.
February 14 was Douglass’ chosen birthday because he fondly remembered that his mother called him “her little valentine.”
The ceremony on Sunday was held near the Douglass monument. That monument was recently put in a more visible location at the corner of South Avenue and Robinson Drive.