WXXI AM News

Supporters gather to watch the re-installation of a Frederick Douglass statue

Dec 20, 2018

Credit Denise Young / WXXI News

Less than a week since vandalism brought down one of the 13 statues of Frederick Douglass that have been placed around Rochester, a replacement has already been installed.

On Thursday, more than 100 people rallied together in support of the re-installation of the statue at the intersection of Tracy and Alexander Streets.

Carvin Eison is the Project Director of the yearlong bicentennial celebration that brought the statue to the site.

He says that Rochester still battles many of the same issues the famed abolitionist dealt with many years ago and that the monument represents the values that Douglass stood for.

“In the modern world we still have to deal with injustice in education, right? And criminal justice. We will stand and we will not allow the monument to be desecrated, we must also stand up for all those other issues cause those are the issues that we face right now," Eison said.

As part of the ceremony, a letter written by Douglass was read to the crowd by two local  high school students. The letter was a response to a parent who was unhappy that Douglass's daughter was attending a school that once stood at the spot where the statue has been placed.

Daren Chentow  drove in from Hemlock, NY.  She says it’s important to support people like sculptor Olivia Kim who worked hard to bring the first statue to the site.

“I felt compelled today to stand here and witness him go back up where he should be.”

Alexis Stubbe is a teacher at Genesee Community Charter School. She came with her class of 33 students to the statue ceremony.

“We thought it was a prime opportunity to show support for Rochester and lift up the legacy of Frederick Douglass. As well as remind these kids that there’s power in voice.”

Two St. John Fisher College students  John Boedicker, of Endicott, Broome County, and Charles Milks of Kenmore  have been charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, in connection with the statue’s destruction. Both have been suspended from Fisher, pending further action regarding their  cases.

St. John Fisher President Gerard Rooney attended the re-installation of the statue on Thursday.

He told the crowd that, “It’s my commitment to you today that we as a campus community will earn the respect of the Rochester community to restore the reputation of St. John Fisher College, and to renew our commitment to this great community in honoring the legacy of Frederick Douglass.”