The petition, which was created over the weekend and had more than 1,300 supporters as of midday on Monday, is to be presented to Monroe County Executive Adam Bello.
“I support renaming Rochester’s gateway Frederick Douglass International Airport, an act which I believe will honor one of our country’s greatest citizens and deliver a message of hope to the world,” said Richard Glaser, a local financial advisor who started the petition.
Douglass was an eminent human rights leader of the 19th century, with his speeches and writings putting him at the forefront of the U.S. abolition movement.
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After escaping slavery, Douglass fled to New York City and then to Massachusetts, publishing his autobiography in 1845.
Douglass lived in Rochester from 1847 to 1872, the longest of any place he lived. He is buried in Rochester’s historic Mount Hope Cemetery.
Earlier this month, a statue of Douglass in Rochester’s Maplewood Park was vandalized. The damaged statue was ripped off its base and dumped about 50 feet away, near a chain-link fence by the Genesee River gorge. The incident drew national attention and finger-pointing as numerous people — including President Donald Trump — offered theories and opinions on why the statue was targeted.
To date, Rochester police have not filed any charges in connection with the incident.
In its early years, Rochester’s airport was known as Britton Field, the Rochester Municipal Airport and the Rochester Monroe County Airport. It became known as the Greater Rochester International Airport in the 1980s.
The airport is owned and operated by Monroe County. County officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Currently, the state Senate is considering a bill to rename the 570-mile state Thruway after Douglass. The highway has been named for late Gov. Thomas Dewey since 1964.
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