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Students Asked to Create Portraits of Anna Murray Douglass

Staff reports

Anna Murray Douglass. Provided by Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives

The title of a book proclaims Frederick Douglass as the most photographed man of the 19th century.

As for his wife, Anna Murray Douglass, there are only two known images of the woman described as the steward of her husband’s legacy and co-conductor of their Rochester stop on the Underground Railroad. Both of those portray her as an adult.

What might she have looked like as a child or teen, as a young adult and as she moved to elder status?

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, as a way to honor Anna Murray Douglass during the centennial year of the 19th Amendment, is holding a Life in Portrait contest.

The contest is open to students ages 8 to 18 in Monroe County schools. Each student is eligible to submit one image of Anna Murray Douglass at any one of three stages in her life – ages 5 to 25, 26-45 or 46-69. Students may work in pencil, pastels, charcoal, crayons, oil or mixed media. Image sizes may range from 8.5 inches by 11 inches to 11 inches by 14 inches. Entries must be received by 5 p.m., Nov. 20.

“How does Anna appear in your creative thoughts?” asked Bleu Cease, executive director/curator of Rochester Contemporary Art Center. “Her clothing? Her hair? Her eyes? Her smile? What’s in the background?

Participants will compete in three levels: elementary (aged 8-10), middle (aged 11-13) and high school (aged 14-18). The winner in each level will receive $500. Two runners-up per level will receive $250 each.

The contest will be judged by a panel of art experts, historians and journalists. The contest is co-curated by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, Rochester Contemporary Art Center and the Rochester Association of Black Journalists.

The contest will inaugurate the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives new headquarters at 140 E. Main St., where student work will decorate the gallery. The space was given to Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives by CGI owner Bob Bartosiewicz.

Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is an abolitionist and anti-racist organization co-founded by direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Its mission is to build strong children and to end systems of exploitation and oppression. The organization has implemented human trafficking prevention education curricula in classrooms nationally since 2007.