Frederick Douglass Bicentennial
Local Exhibits and Events

Rochester and Monroe County officials have proclaimed 2018 “The Year of Frederick Douglass” and has a year-long list of events planned to commemorate the life and legacy of the great social justice champion.

  • The Rochester Public Library/Local History & Genealogy Division has a new mini exhibit: Frederick Douglass’ Rochester: Mapping His Tracks in Our City. This small exhibit on the second floor of the Rundel Library was created in conjunction with the Division’s current exhibit on Rochester’s bicentennials and centennials. Exhibit open through Aug. 31.
  • No Soil Better: Art and the Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, 137 East Ave. Presented as part of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee. Exhibit open through March 18.
  • The University of Rochester’s River Campus Librarie and the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries present “Rochester’s Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s World: Understanding the Man and His Legacy through Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation," second floor Rush Rhees Library. Exhibit open from Feb. 14 through August.
  • The Frederick Douglass Institute for African & African-American Studies at the University of Rochester presents "Black Lives Matter: Genealogies and the Contemporary Movement," with Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. Morris will give a presentation about the history of his family, the pressure he felt growing up in the shadow of his esteemed ancestors and his work today fighting modern-day slavery as President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. April 5 at 5 p.m.
Frederick-Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge
A DEDICATED LIFE

Fredrick Douglass was an accomplished writer, editor, activist and abolitionist, but his life of achievements didn’t start easy. Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818. According to his official government biography, he had a difficult family life; he barely knew his mother, who died when Doulgass was young; and never discovered the identity of this father, but at an early age, he realized there was a link between literacy and freedom.

He was known as a “slave-breaker” who plotted escapes and educated other slaves. In 1838, he disguised himself as a sailor and boarded a train for New York City where he would declare himself free. After escaping slavery, Douglass married Anna Murray, a young free black woman who assisted in his successful escape from slavery. The couple started a family that would grow to include five children.

Frederick Douglass Statue

To avoid being captured and re-enslaved, he traveled overseas to the United Kingdom to give speeches about his life and escape. When abolitionists offered to purchase his freedom, Douglass returned to the U.S. and relocated Anna and their children to Rochester.

In Rochester, Douglass found like-minded thinkers and took his work in new directions as he embraced the women’s rights movements, helped people on the Underground Railroad and supported anti-slavery political parties. He bought a printing press and ran is own newspaper, The North Star.

Hochstein School of Music and Dance

When the nation erupted into Civil War in 1861, Douglass worked to ensure that emancipation would be one of the war’s outcomes. He recruited African-American men to fight for the North, including his two sons, and when black troops protested against unequal treatment and pay, Douglass met with President Abraham Lincoln to advocate on their behalf.

Douglass moved to Washington D.C. after their family’s South Avenue farm house burned down in Rochester in 1872. He would hold various federal positions, serving five U.S. presidents

On February 1895, Douglass was preparing to give a speech at a local church when he suffered a heart attack and died at the age 77. His remains were returned to Rochester, where a funeral service was held at Hochstein School of Music and Dance.

Frederick Douglass Gravestone
IMPACT ON ROCHESTER

Frederick Douglass thrived after relocating to Rochester, largely due to the social justice community that existed here. In their early years, he was friends with women’s rights champion Susan B. Anthony. The two are arguably the most celebrated figures in Rochester history and as such, their impact can be found throughout the city.

The Frederick-Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge in downtown Rochester is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

Frederick Douglass Statue

Murals of Douglass and Anthony, as well as other prominent figures in Rochester’s history, can be found on the pillars underneath Interstate 490 on West Main Street.

Just a few blocks from there is Susan B. Anthony Square Park, where bronze statues of Douglass and Anthony have sat since they were erected in 2001.

Murals of Douglass and Anthony, as well as other prominent figures in Rochester’s history, can be found on the pillars underneath Interstate 490 on West Main Street.

Just a few blocks from there is Susan B. Anthony Square Park, where bronze statues of Douglass and Anthony have sat since they were erected in 2001.

The Frederick Douglass Community Library now stands where his family’s home once stood on South Avenue, and it features an original mural by Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody.

Just a short distance south of the library is the Frederick Douglass Monument at the Highland Bowl. Dedicated in 1899 by then-Governor Theodore Roosevelt, it was the first statue in the country to memorialize an African-American citizen.

Murals of Douglass and Anthony, as well as other prominent figures in Rochester’s history, can be found on the pillars underneath Interstate 490 on West Main Street.

Just a few blocks from there is Susan B. Anthony Square Park, where bronze statues of Douglass and Anthony have sat since they were erected in 2001.

The Frederick Douglass Community Library now stands where his family’s home once stood on South Avenue, and it features an original mural by Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody.

Just a short distance south of the library is the Frederick Douglass Monument at the Highland Bowl. Dedicated in 1899 by then-Governor Theodore Roosevelt, it was the first statue in the country to memorialize an African-American citizen.

Murals of Douglass and Anthony, as well as other prominent figures in Rochester’s history, can be found on the pillars underneath Interstate 490 on West Main Street.

Just a few blocks from there is Susan B. Anthony Square Park, where bronze statues of Douglass and Anthony have sat since they were erected in 2001.

The Frederick Douglass Community Library now stands where his family’s home once stood on South Avenue, and it features an original mural by Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody.

Just a short distance south of the library is the Frederick Douglass Monument at the Highland Bowl. Dedicated in 1899 by then-Governor Theodore Roosevelt, it was the first statue in the country to memorialize an African-American citizen.

Frederick Douglass Mural

The Frederick Douglass Community Library now stands where his family’s home once stood on South Avenue, and it features an original mural by Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody.

Just a short distance south of the library is the Frederick Douglass Monument at the Highland Bowl. Dedicated in 1899 by then-Governor Theodore Roosevelt, it was the first statue in the country to memorialize an African-American citizen.

His gravestone can be found at Mount Hope Cemetery, along the likes of other historical figures like Susan B. Anthony, Rochester founder Nathaniel Rochester and founder of Gannett newspapers, Frank Gannett.

Frederick Douglass Community Library