New York county renames airport after abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Aug 15, 2020

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Flyers to Rochester, New York, will get a free lesson on the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass before or after their flights.

The Monroe County legislature renamed the airport “Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport” (ROC) at a vote on Aug. 11. The renaming includes the addition of educational material on the life and legacy of Douglass in the terminal, according to county documents.

“Each time residents and visitors arrive to our airport, they will be reminded of Douglass’s life and legacy of fighting oppression,” local legislators Vince Felder and Karla Boyce told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “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.”

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Douglass, who was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818 and escaped to freedom in 1838, settled in Rochester in 1847. There, he published abolitionist literature and became a leader in the movement. He is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester.

The move comes amid widespread recognition of the struggles — and contributions — of Black Americans through the Black Lives Matter movement.

The airport renaming comes the same week as Washington, D.C., completed the arches on a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge that will span the Anacostia River in the city that is due to open in 2021.

Rochester is served by Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines — the largest by passenger numbers in 2019 — JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

Related: Here are 5 airports designed by Black architects that you should know

Featured image by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

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