Hundreds of Rochesterians came together Wednesday evening—as part of a yearlong celebration of Frederick Douglass’ life and accomplishments—to shine a light on the beloved 1899 Douglass monument at Highland Bowl.
“Tonight’s ‘Shine a Light on Douglass’ event helps to illustrate the legacy of Frederick Douglass, who placed a bright, shining light on the importance of equality and justice for all people,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in a statement. “Monroe County is proud to be a partner in this historic community event and join with the hundreds of residents from our community in paying respect to one of Rochester’s trailblazers, Frederick Douglass.”
Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot Team was on hand to create a set of archival photos of the lighted monument. A 30-inch by 40-inch photo will be on display at Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s “No Soil Better” exhibit through March 18, and will be available for download at RoCo’s website.
“No Soil Better” features new artworks by a diverse group of emerging and established artists that reflect on how Douglass has been memorialized and the importance of his legacy today.
“We are honored to help lead the production of this once-in-a-lifetime picture of Frederick Douglass and appreciate the enthusiasm of Rochester to come out in all sorts of weather to help us make these nighttime community photographs,” said Big Shot Team members Michael Peres, Dan Hughes, Therese Mulligan, Debbie Kingsbury and Jessica Campbell.
“Shine a Light on Douglass” is part of the “Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass” public art project, exhibition and community-wide reflection commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth.
The yearlong celebration is a collaborative effort between lead partners Rochester Community Media Center and RoCo, and their leaders Carvin Eison and Bleu Cease, in collaboration with a wide range of community partners including the county. The project will celebrate Douglass’ achievements and legacy throughout 2018.
Dinolfo announced last month that the county will be moving the 8-foot tall, bronze monument this spring to a more visible location at the corner of South Avenue and Robinson Drive. The monument is renowned as the first civic monument in the country to honor an African-American citizen. This summer, a series of life-size statues of Douglass created by artist John David Vincent will be placed at historically significant locations around Rochester.
Project director Eison expressed his gratitude to Monroe County Department of Parks, under the leadership of director Larry Staub, for allowing project officials unique access to the Douglass monument to assure that Vincent’s recreation is a “powerful, inspiring and moving depiction” of Douglass.
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