Posts Tagged Rochester
“Frederick Douglass in Rochester with John Muller” at Writers and Books (September 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
September 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
With the continued recognition of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial throughout the year join Washington, D.C.-based journalist and historian John Muller for a presentation beyond the common lore and mythology of Dr. Frederick Douglass.
John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012), will share largely unknown and previously unpublished material on the activities, experiences and relationships of Dr. Frederick Douglass and his family in Rochester and Monroe County, New York within the community of newspaper editors and journalists, abolitionists, reformists and educators.
Learn how Douglass’ extensive Rochester network sustained him and frequently visited the Douglass family in Washington City.
Additionally, Muller will provide updates on Bicentennial activities in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore-Eastern Shore area.
PowerPoint Presentation, Audience Q & A, books available for sale.
Writers & Books
740 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
Frederick Douglass, Rochester Quakers and Social Reforms in the 19th Century (Sunday, August 5, 2018)
Quaker historian Judith Wellman and Justin Murphy of the Democrat and Chronicle will discuss Douglass’ Quaker connections in Rochester and his role in desegregating Rochester’s public schools. David Shakes will recite portions of Douglass’ speeches, and historian David Anderson will be honored for his career’s work on Douglass.
84 Scio St. (Map)
Sunday, August 5, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
“Making the case for Frederick Douglass’ connection with UR,” Jim Memmott, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [July 18, 2018]
[This article ran in the Democrat and Chronicle on July 18, 2018. Thank you, Mr. Jim Memmott.]
Original article HERE!
The abolitionist Frederick Douglass was an emancipated slave with no formal education. Most certainly, he never went to college; however, it would seem that college came to him, honoring his intellect, praising his achievements.
John Muller, the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, makes a special case for a connection between Douglass and the University of Rochester and its president, Martin Brewer Anderson.
“The friendly relationship between Douglass and (the) Rev. Martin B. Anderson, as well as faculty and students at the University of Rochester, is pivotal to understanding Douglass’ Rochester years,” Muller wrote in an email. “… The mutual respect President Anderson and Douglass had for each other demonstrates how Douglass was uniquely supported by the ‘learned community’ in Rochester and the contributions he made to the intellectual vitality of Rochester as one of its leading citizens.”
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth in Maryland as a slave. To mark the anniversary, the UR awarded Douglass a posthumous honorary doctor of laws degree in May. (Full disclosure: I teach journalism at UR.)
The degree recognized the fact that Douglass had been a leading abolitionist and published The North Star while living in Rochester from 1847 to 1872. He then moved to Washington, D.C., after his house on South Avenue burned down.
The time Douglass spent in Rochester overlapped with the early years of the UR, which was founded in 1850. Three years later, Martin Brewer Anderson became the university’s first president.
Muller lives in Washington and is a grandson of the late William B. Hemmer, a professor at The College of Brockport. He maintains a blog, thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com (Anacostia is the Washington neighborhood in which Douglass lived).
In the blog, Muller points to a letter of thanks that Douglass wrote to Anderson in 1868 after Anderson had helped him arrange a speech at another university. Anderson was also a member of a committee that commissioned Rochester sculptor Johnson Mundy to create a bust of Douglass. At the dedication ceremony in 1879, he spoke glowingly of Douglass.
“(Frederick Douglass) was a man born in slavery,” Anderson said, “but by a display of indomitable energy and a never wavering courage he raised himself to the level of the foremost orators, philanthropists and emancipators of the day.”
As Muller notes, Galusha Anderson (no relation to Martin Anderson), a student at the UR in the 1850s who later became the president of the University of Chicago, also had high praise for Frederick Douglass.
He wrote how UR students would gather in the library to read the new issues of The North Star. “He never had a day’s schooling in his life, yet he gripped and delighted college students,” Galusha Anderson wrote in 1916.
Anderson went on to write that “Pres. Martin B. Anderson of the university warmly befriended (Douglass), suggested much to him in conversations and commended to him useful books.”
Melissa S. Mead, the university’s archivist and Rochester Collections librarian, says that research into the connection between Frederick Douglass and Martin Anderson is ongoing.
However, the university doesn’t have Anderson’s outgoing mail in its collection. “It’s possible that he sent letters to Douglass, but we have no way of knowing that,” Mead says.
It should be noted, too, that the enthusiasm for Douglass did not translate quickly into the admission of African-American students at UR. Charles Augustus Thomson, class of 1891, was the first African-American to graduate; Beatrice Amaza Howard, class of 1931, was the first African-American woman to graduate.
A bust of Douglass was first placed in Sibley Hall on the old campus of the university. It is now on display in Frederick Douglass Commons on the university’s River Campus. Thus, Douglass is a familiar presence at the UR, perhaps as he was while living here.
Honoring the dead
William H. Cooper Marine Post No. 603 of the American Legion will conduct a ceremony at 11 a.m. July 18 in Mt. Hope Cemetery, noting the 100th anniversary of the death of its namesake.
Born in Rochester in 1892, Sgt. Cooper was an electrician when he enlisted in April 1917. Sent to France in October, he was killed in action July 18, 1918.
On Remarkable Rochester
Retired Senior Editor Jim Memmott reflects on what makes Rochester distinctively Rochester, its history, its habits, its people. Since 2010, he has also been compiling a list of Remarkable Rochesterians.
Let’s add the names of this college president to the list of Remarkable Rochesterians that can be found at at rochester.nydatabases.com:
Martin B. Anderson (1815-1890): He became the first president of the University of Rochester in 1853 and served for 35 years, retiring in 1888. Born in Maine, he graduated from Waterville College (now Colby College), attended Newton Theological Institution in Massachusetts, and later returned to Waterville to teach. He went on to edit a Baptist newspaper in New York City until he came to UR, where, in addition to his presidential duties, he lectured on philosophy, constitutional law and other subjects. He also oversaw the move of the college from a hotel to a new campus on Prince Street.
“Five Hundred Years Hence Rochester’s Chief Title to Historic Fame Will be The Fact That It Was the Home of Douglass,” [“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866]
As the Bicentennial marches on I have ventured afield from W Street SE across the Chesapeake to the Shore, up the road to Baltimore and further north to Rochester, New York to do what little I can to uplift fallen and unknown history.
To say the least, the largely indifferent attitude I have encountered in contemporary Rochester to the history of Douglass in that city seems to be the continuation of a longstanding history of indifference.
Without further editorializing or ado …
Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.
“Five hundred years hence,” said Thompson the noted English agitator in Corinthian Hall some fifteen years ago – “five hundred years hence Rochester’s chief title to historic fame will be the fact that it was the home of Douglass.”
Yet while such is the high appreciation of Fred. Douglass by the Radicals and Abolitionists of foreign lands, the Radicals of Rochester regard him in no other light than a tool to be used to get votes for the “white trash” who control the Radical party, and carry off its officers and its honors.
The Radical party profess to go for Political Equality between Blacks and Whites. They propose to force Negro Equality upon the South at any cost – even that of another Civil War, if milder “persuasives” prove unavailing. But, while they hold that attitude before this country and the whole Christian world, they practically repudiate their avowed principles here where they have the power and the opportunity to assert them, and to illustrate their devotion to the Black race, by doing honor to its most distinguished representative.
Frederick Douglass is unquestionably a man of a higher order of talent. His moral character is unimpeachable. His is in our judgement the ablest and most accomplished man which the Black and mixed races have produced on this continent. If any man of his color ever was or ever will be entitles to a seat in Congress and full recognition of his Equality with the White race, assuredly he is that man.
Here he is, in a District overwhelmingly “Black Republican:” yet he is denied a nomination to Congress; denied a seat in the Radical State Convention; denied a seat in the Radical Conventions to nominate candidates for Congress and other offices, and turned off with the empty honor of going to Philadelphia to make votes for the “white trash” whom the Radicals of the District select for every really desirable place.
Will not the Tribune and Independent rebuke their fellow-partisans here their selfishness and insincerity?
Will they compare the sentiments of Mr. Hart, as set forth in his own language in another article, with the treatment of Mr. Douglass by Mr. Hart and his friends, and tell their readers what they think of such arrant hypocrisy and imposture?
“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866, p. 3.
LOOK! Douglassonian Muralist Shawn Dunwoody debuts distinctive Dr. Frederick Douglass stomping in his Air Force Ones, the standard uniform of Eastern Shoremen
Last weekend in Rochester, New York on the ground once the homestead of the Anna & Frederick Douglass family indigenous Douglassonian and polymath Shawn Dunwoody, with helping hands from local students and community volunteers, created the most distinctive and modern Frederick Douglass murals in the known world.
Deviating from traditional form and fashion, Dunwoody has enlivened Dr. Douglass and brought him to life anew with two works unlike any comparable murals.
While in Rochester to connect with family and participate in ceremonies Tarence Bailey visited the 900 block of South Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood of Rochester. It was here the former Douglass homestead stood.
Now the site serves as the campus of the Frederick Douglass Community Library, School No. 12 and the Frederick Douglass Recreation Center
I am familiar with murals in my areas and have studied Prof. Zoe Trodd’s expansive documentation of Douglass murals internationally. Dunwoody’s works are some of my personal favorites and will be included in the Frederick Douglass Mural exhibit planned for this fall.
To be continued …
Did you know Dr. Frederick Douglass was appointed a “member of the District School Board”? I didn’t. (Rochester Union & Advertiser, August 1874)
During his life Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass lived many lives, visited many places, made many friends and contributed his time and influence to many associations, organizations and causes. There is much of Dr. Douglass and his life untold by any biographers, especially those who are “experts” in speculation, not interpretation or fact.
An area of scholarship untouched by modern scholars, buried deep within the Journal of Negro Education, is Dr. Douglass and Education. It is one of a dozen or so areas of scholarship that has remained at least three time zones beyond the attention of inquisitive and investigatory scholars. No longer.
On a recent trip to Rochester’s Central Library I reviewed microfilm rolls of local newspapers that have yet to be digitized. The tried and true method of cross-checking indexes has stood the test of time.
Brandon Fess and other staff of the Rochester Central library were very helpful in locating a number of news clips containing information never seen before in my six or so years of closely surveying the field of Douglass Studies.
One of the more interesting items discovered was a paragraph from a late August 1874 edition of the Union and Advertiser mentioning the appointment of Dr. Douglass to the DC Board of Education, which at that time maintained a segregated system for “white” students and “colored” students.
I can’t recall coming across this before or a similar item which documents the early involvement and activism of Dr. Douglass within the DC public school system. Many know Charles Douglass was a principal and/or night school instructor in Barry Farm.
I do not believe there is a living scholar, other than Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, who has attempted to look under this gigantic boulder of Douglass Studies.
Thanks to a tip from collaborative Douglassonian David Turk of the US Marshal Service I discovered Douglass was appointed, but did not formally accept, a position on the Board of Police Commissioners. I had not known about Douglass and the school board.
Now I know, as do you. There is much research to be done to uplift the history of Dr. Douglass.
To be continued …