Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission partners Writers & Books and Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives recently announced they are working to bring the national “One Million Abolitionists” book project to Rochester youth who attend city of Rochester RCenters.
The announcement was made at the Frederick Douglass RCenter, which is on the site of Douglass’ former South Avenue home. The project is one of many affiliated with the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass project throughout the 2018 Year of Frederick Douglass, commemorating the bicentennial of his birth.
Among those present at the announcement was FDFI founder Kenneth Morris Jr. Morris is the great-great-great grandson of Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. City Council President Loretta Scott presented Morris with a proclamation on behalf of the city of Rochester.
“It is really so meaningful for me to be here — back to my family’s home site, our roots — to represent the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives,” Morris said. “Our purpose is to bring the guidance of history to the fight against modern forms of slavery. As part of the present-day abolitionist movement, we strive to educate young people about all forms of forced servitude and human trafficking and inspire them to action. I especially want to thank not just Writers & Books, the city of Rochester, the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee members and the leaders of the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass project, but all the people of Rochester who have worked tirelessly for so long to keep the legacy alive.”
“One Million Abolitionists” is a bicentennial-year effort to distribute special bicentennial edition copies of Douglass’ autobiography, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,” to 1 million students nationwide. A Rochester donor made it possible for more than 2,000 books to be distributed to Rochester youth through a partnership between Writers & Books and the city of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services.
“‘The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave’ is a book that has tremendous relevance to those of us here is Rochester, and also one that the Library of Congress named one of the 88 ‘Books That Shaped America,’” said Kyle Semmel, director of Writers & Books. “We will also be offering companion programming that we hope will, in the words of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, ‘inspire and empower young people to do and be more than they ever dreamed possible.’ What better way to celebrate the Year of Douglass?”
Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass is a public art project, exhibition and communitywide reflection commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth. A collaborative effort between lead partners Rochester Community Media Center and Rochester Contemporary Art Center, in collaboration with FDFI and other community partners who have come together as the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee, the project will celebrate Douglass’ achievements and legacy throughout 2018 and beyond. Christine Christopher, project manager, and David Anderson, emeritus committee chairman and National Frederick Douglass Bicentennial commissioner, round out the committee leadership. Jose Torre, chairman of the history department at The College at Brockport, is the history consultant.