February 14, 2018 marks the 200th Anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ Birthday. Like most slaves, he did not know the date of his actual birthday, so he chose February 14. To celebrate the life of this amazing and inspiring individual, who was born into slavery, was self-educated, managed to escape from slavery and lived in Rochester for 25 of the most productive years of his life, the City of Rochester and Monroe County declared 2018 to be the Year of Frederick Douglass.
RCTV Rochester’s Community Media Center and Rochester Contemporary Art Center are spearheading the “Re-energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass” initiative to celebrate his 200th birthday. These efforts are endorsed by The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
This initiative brings together many organizations within the community to collaborate on and promote a year-long celebration, recognition and reflection on his life. Frederick Douglass will be commemorated with concerts and public art projects, dance performances and multi-media presentations, walking tours, and more. Dozens of Rochester-based organizations have joined the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee in support of this landmark project. The City of Rochester is generously hosting a page on its website on which all bicentennial-related events will be listed. Visit this site often for regular updates on events happening throughout the year!
RCTV, Rochester’s Community Media Center has raised funds to have life-size statues of Frederick Douglass created by sculptor John David Vincent. The statues will be based on the original Stanley Edwards statue located in Highland Park. When completed, they will be placed in strategically-historic places around Rochester, and they will have information available pertaining to his words and his contributions to the community and to society. Educators in The Rochester City School District are creating curriculum to correlate with this initiative and address learning objectives.
From February 2 through March 18, Rochester Contemporary Art Center will present the exhibit No Soil Better: Art & The Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass.
No Soil Better is an exhibition of new artworks by a diverse group of emerging and established artists. The featured projects reflect on how Douglass has been memorialized and the importance of his legacy today.
Events being held in conjunction with this exhibit include:Opening Reception: February 2, 6-9pm
Artist Talk: February 3, 1pm
What Would Douglass Do? – Community Discussion: February 8, 7pm
Shine A Light on Douglass: February 14, 6:30pm (At Highland Bowl)
Historicizing the Douglass Monument: February 15, 7pm
Shine A Light on Douglass is organized by RIT’s Big Shot team. Join us in Highland Park to help Rochester celebrate Frederick Douglass’ birth and create an important archival photo of the Douglass Monument (1899) by Sidney Edwards.
The community is invited to join with the Big Shot team in Highland Bowl at 6:30 pm on February 14 to “Shine a Light on Frederick Douglass.” All you need are warm clothes and a flashlight!