The Monroe County Legislature unanimously voted to approve the renaming of the Greater Rochester International Airport after local abolitionist Frederick Douglass on Tuesday. The new name of the airport will be the “Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport.”

The bi-partisan legislation gained momentum following a petition that gained nearly 5,000 signatures. The legislation was submitted by Democratic Minority Leader Vincent R. Felder (D- Rochester) and Legislator Karla F. Boyce (R- Mendon).

“I got very emotional when I heard the news,” said Nettie Washington Douglass, great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass. “This is an incredible honor for the Douglass family which includes all of the residents of Rochester, New York. Thanks to everyone who made this possible including Richard Glaser, who started the name change petition, and the Monroe County Legislature. I can’t wait to hear the captain say, ‘Welcome to Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport!’”

"I hope that. in addition to a formal name change, we also sort of recognize the great diversity and history of our community," said petition organizer Richard Glaser. 

The airport will see its first name change since 1987.

Calling Frederick Douglass "Rochester's favorite son," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren voiced her support of the decision to re-name the Greater Rochester International Airport in honor of Douglass before the legislature voted:

"We appreciate all that he did, to rename the airport after him would be something that I know that would be appreciated for generations to come," Warren said. "Because of his work, because he chose this city to not only start his paper in, but also to do his work."

Legislature Minority Leader Vincent R. Felder and Legislator Karla F. Boyce released a joint statement after the vote on Tuesday:

“We are proud that this landmark legislation passed with such overwhelming support. Honoring Frederick Douglass, one of Monroe County’s most influential residents, in renaming the Airport is something that our community can take great pride in. While taking this action to change the Airport’s name to the ‘Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport’ is something that has been discussed over the years, we feel fortunate to have been a part of this historic action.

“Each time residents and visitors arrive to our airport, they will be reminded of Douglass’s life and legacy of fighting oppression. Our remembrance through the Airport renaming serves as recognition of our past and a promise of the work our community will do to make Monroe County a welcoming place for all.”