Update: Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on July 30 announced that legislators have joined in support of renaming the Greater Rochester International Airport to honor Frederick Douglass.
Here is Bello’s statement:
“I appreciate that members of the Monroe County Legislature have joined me in support of renaming the Greater Rochester International Airport in honor of Frederick Douglass. In the weeks since first learning of this proposal, I have spoken with our federal representatives, members of our community and other interested stakeholders, and am grateful for all of their input and feedback. I look forward to working with the FAA to advance this initiative through the approval process in the weeks and months to come so that we can honor the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass in this way.”
Hour by hour, an online petition to change the name of Rochester’s airport to honor Frederick Douglass gains more signatures.
“I believe this is the moment to recognize Frederick Douglass,” said Richard Glaser, who started a Change.org petition on July 12 that two days later had amassed nearly 2,800 signatures.
The surge caught the attention of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, who acknowledged the groundswell and issued a statement on July 14. Bello wrote that he would work with the county legislature, the Federal Aviation Administration and the public to study the proposal.
“Frederick Douglass holds an unparalleled place of prominence in the history of Rochester and Monroe County,” Bello wrote. He called Rochester home for more than a quarter-century and it was here that he founded and published his North Star newspaper, wrote some of his greatest works and speeches and continued his life-long fight for emancipation, suffrage, equality and human rights. His world-renowned leadership on social reform is a legacy that lives on throughout our community.”
Glaser, who founded the grassroots organization RocGrowth.com, said that in early 2019 he wrote a blog about renaming the Greater Rochester International Airport after he read that Louisville had named its airport for Muhammad Ali.
Glaser said at that time he suggested renaming the airport after Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Now he said that the focus should be on Douglass. He said people are reading his works and that he deserves his rightful place.
He also said renaming the airport for Douglass would connect visitors to Rochester’s history in a way that a generically named facility cannot.
According to the Change.org petition, Glaser wrote that “Douglass’s message might be more relevant today than ever since the struggles he fought for remain ongoing. His words and actions continue to inspire us to rise to a higher vision of ourselves and our nation.”
Glaser said this is the first Change.org petition he has created.
“I’m hopeful it will happen,” he said of the outcome.