People around the area are devastated to learn the news of the recent attempted theft and severe damage to the statue of Frederick Douglass. We wish that we could write this off as an immature act of vandalism, but sadly the witness to the theft reports that hateful racial epithets were used by those responsible. We find that incredibly sad.
Throughout the course of this yearlong celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, and specifically his life and legacy here in Rochester, we have repeatedly talked about how the statues of Douglass that have been placed around the community have brought people together. In fact, more than 100 schools, colleges, universities, fraternal organizations, arts organizations, museums, churches, neighbor groups, elected officials, artists and other individuals have spent the past year in celebration of Douglass. Just this month, a sold-out audience came together at Hochstein to remember Douglass, and hear from noted historian David Blight. This demonstration of unity speaks volumes more about who we are than the hateful acts of these individuals.
The easy response, the human response, is anger. But, we encourage this community to rise above the anger and disappointment, and turn this into a teachable moment — as Douglass would have wanted us to do. The statue at the corner of Alexander and Tracy streets will be replaced, as quickly as it can possibly be done. We will not give in to hatred.
On behalf of the entire Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee, we want to say thanks to the witness who quickly called the police. Thanks to the Rochester Police Department for their quick response, and to all those who have reached out with words of support.
Bleu Cease, Christine Christopher and Carvin Eison
The “Re-energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass” Project