Rochester, New York‘s airport will be renamed to honor 19th-century abolitionist and freedom fighter Frederick Douglass, one of its most famous and influential residents.
According to news, the Monroe County Legislature voted Tuesday night to change the airport’s name to the “Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport,” adding the Douglass’ name to the existing airport’s title.
To quote from USA TODAY:
The bill was sponsored by the legislature’s Democratic Minority Leader Vince Felder and Republican Legislator Karla Boyce, reports the Democrat & Chronicle, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
“Each time residents and visitors arrive to our airport, they will be reminded of Douglass’s life and legacy of fighting oppression,” Felder and Boyce said in a joint statement issued after the vote. “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.”
Douglass was one of the leading voices for human rights in the 19th century, with his speeches and writings helping to drive the U.S. abolition movement.
His contemporaries described him as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.
After escaping from slavery in Maryland, Douglass fled to New York City and then to Massachusetts, publishing his autobiography in 1845. Douglass lived in Rochester from 1847 to 1872, where he founded and published his North Star Newspaper. He is buried in Rochester’s historic Mount Hope Cemetery.
Direct descendants of Douglass said the vote to change the airport’s name was an incredible honor.
“I got very emotional when I heard the news,” said Nettie Washington Douglass, the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass. “I can’t wait to hear the captain say, ‘Welcome to Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport!’”
The Rochester-based Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) is chaired by Nettie Washington Douglass.